Aztlán: The History and Mystery of the Aztec’s Ancestral Home

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Sinopsis

Unlike the Mayans, the Aztecs are not widely viewed or remembered with nuance, in part because their own leader burned extant Aztec writings and rewrote a mythologized history explaining his empire’s dominance less than a century before the Spanish arrived. Naturally, Cortés and other Spaniards depicted the Aztecs as savages greatly in need of conversion to Catholicism, so while the Mayans are remembered for their astronomy, numeral system, and calendar, the Aztecs have primarily been remembered in a far narrower way, despite continuing to be a source of pride to Mexicans through the centuries.

One of the most elusive topics about the Aztecs concern their origins, in particular the city of Aztlán, which is said to be the place from which the Aztecs came. To this day, the physical location of Aztlán has yet to be found, leading to debates about where it could have been, or even whether it was simply a mythological location. For centuries, historians and archaeologists have studied ancient documents and codices in an attempt to physically locate this ancestral city, while other scholars maintain that Aztlán is nothing but an origin myth, and there is not enough evidence in the sources to suggest that it was ever a real place.

Many theories about Aztlán have been proposed throughout the centuries, some strongly based on information provided by historical and archaeological evidence. Others are based purely on conjecture. There are even some who have suggested that Aztlán corresponds to the mythical Atlantis based on a series of similarities in the descriptions of both places. For example, Plato described Atlantis as a city built over a lake, just as Aztlán was said to be.


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