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date: 11 August 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This introductory chapter begins with a discussion of the different names given to the Aztec Empire and its people by scholars. It then provides an overview of the major trends of research on the Aztecs in the past 50 years. The range of theoretical perspectives used by scholars includes culture history, cultural ecology, Marxism, practice theory, and theoretical holism, among others. Regardless of their varied theoretical orientation, scholars have taken advantage of proto-ethnographies written in the sixteenth century, archaeological findings from the nineteenth century, and regional archaeological surveys completed in the mid-twentieth century. Varied archaeological projects in the provinces of the empire, in Aztec city-state centers and rural sites within the Basin of Mexico and other areas of Central Mexico, and in Mexico City, including the Templo Mayor project, have provided a rich body of data. Major contributions by historians include a reevaluation of the Spanish Conquest and the processes of change and continuity among indigenous people after the Conquest.

Keywords: Aztecs, empire, archaeological theory, history, Basin of Mexico, Mexico City, Templo Mayor, Spanish Conquest

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