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The Aztecs were an American Indian people who ruled a mighty empire in Mexico from the 1400s to the 1500s The Aztecs had one of the most advanced civilizations in the Americas and built cities as large as any in Europe at that time The Aztecs built towering temples created huge sculptures and held impressive ceremonies all for the purpose of worshipping their gods They also practiced a remarkable religion that affected every part of their lives which featured human sacrifice In the year 1521 the Spaniards destroyed their magnificent empire but the Aztecs left a lasting mark on Mexican life and culture The majority of the Aztecs lived in what is now called the Valley of Mexico located at an elevation of over 7000 feet From the massive pyramids of Tenochtitlan to the inhabitants of the vast hub of modern Mexico City the great valley has been the heartland of many empires However the mighty Aztecs were the last indigenous group of people to enter the Valley of Mexico Like many other pre-Columbian cultures the Aztecs developed their own political system religion social structure agricultural techniques lifestyle and worldview The early Aztecs were semi-nomadic hunters and farmers According to legend in about 1000 AD the Aztecs left their mythic island homeland of Aztlan in the desert frontiers of northern Mexico to begin their 100-year migration south to the Valley of Mexico Led by their powerful patron god Huiziloposhtli they continued their migration southward stopping along the way to plant crops to build temples for their gods and to offer human sacrifices in their honor According to the famous legend the Aztecs finally settled at a spot where an eagle sat upon a cactus eating a snake This was a sign foretold by their patron god The sign found by the priests finally appeared on a small island in Lake Texcoco By 1325 on the island the Aztecs
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