Campfire remains in the Valley of Mexico have been radiocarbon-dated to 21,000 BCE, and a few chips of stone tools have been found near the hearths, indicating the presence of humans at that time. Around 9,000 years ago, ancient indigenous peoples domesticated corn and initiated an agricultural revolution, leading to the formation of many complex civilizations. Between 1,800 and 300 BCE, many matured into advanced pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations such as: the Olmec, the Teotihuacan, the Maya, the Zapotec, the Mixtec, the Toltec and the Aztec, which flourished for nearly 4,000 years before the first contact with Europeans.
These civilizations are credited with many inventions and advancements in fields such as architecture (pyramid-temples), mathematics, astronomy, medicine and theology. The Aztecs were noted for practicing human sacrifice on a large scale. At its peak, Teotihuacan, containing some of the largest pyramidal structures built in the pre-Columbian Americas, had a population of more than 150,000 people. Estimates of the population before the Spanish conquest range from 6 million to 25 million.
Miguel Hidalgo y Costilla "The Father of Mexico"
In the early 16th century, from the landing of Hernán Cortés, the Aztec civilization was invaded and conquered by the Spaniards. Unintentionally introduced by Spanish conquerors, smallpox ravaged Mesoamerica in the 1520s, killing millions of Aztecs, including the emperor, and was credited with the victory of Hernán Cortés over the Aztec empire. The territory became part of the Spanish Empire under the name of New Spain. Much of the identity, traditions and architecture of Mexico were created during the colonial period.
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