Learn English Grammar From A–Z
- A náhuatl -speaking people of Central America who in the fourteenth century established a brilliant but tyrannical civilization in central and southern Mexico. The capital was Tenochtitlán, built on reclaimed marshland which became Mexico City. Renowned for their jewelry, the Aztecs were also skilled architects and used a writing system based on pictographs and hieroglyphs. The Aztec calendar followed a 52-year astronomical cycle. They worshipped the plumed serpent Quetzalcóatl and the war-god Huitzilopochtli, whom their priests appeased by human sacrifice. The Aztec empire collapsed in 1521 after defeat by the Spanish under Hernán Cortés and Pedro de Alvarado.