Note:  Do not rely on this information. It is very old.


Aztecs, the civilised inhabitants of the Mexican plateau, whose empire was overthrown by the Spaniards in 1520. They appear to have reached the plateau after long migrations from the north some three or four centuries before the conquest; but they had been preceded by other civilised peoples of the same race, the earliest of whom were the so-called Toltecs, that is, "Builders," to whom all the older Mexican monuments are commonly attributed. At the time of the discovery the Aztecs occupied not only the Anahuac plateau, but also numerous detached settlements as far south as Lake Nicaragua, and the Aztec language has been traced from this point northwards to Oregon. It is a typical American tongue, in which the polysynthetic principle is carried to its utmost limits, all the words of the sentence tending to become "incapsulated," or incorporated in a single polysyllable. It is still current in a great part of Mexico from Oajaca as far north as Durango and Sinaloa. Its nearest affinities are with the Cora of Jalisco, the Tarahumara of Chihuahua, the Acaje of Durango, the Cahita, Tepehuana, Pima and Opata of Sonora and Sinaloa. The oldest and most comprehensive name of this group is Nahua, whence the terms Nahuatlac and Nahuatl often applied respectively to the Aztec nation and Aztec language. The Aztecs are of small size, averaging about 5 ft. 2 in., with dark or reddish-brown skin, very long black hair, small black eyes slightly oblique, curved nose, large mouth and ears, thin lips, broad features. They possess great staying power, are extremely frugal and patient under harsh treatment, silent, moody, and impassive. They still number about 1,600,000 of pure blood, besides numerous half-breeds. See H. H. Bancroft, The Native Races of the Pacific States.