Deciphering the Codices
Records of 16th century Central Mexico, both before and after Spanish conquest, exist largely in the form of documents chronicling the histories— embedded with myth— of the various cultures and their rulers. These historical codices, include much of what modern western readers would understand as history, including dynastic lineages and wars, along with legendary narratives that give each Central Mexican polity a strong sense of identity and a point of origin which explain the structures and values of their societies . The Aztec histories, chronicling the history of the founders and rulers of Tenochtitlan, show migration, imperial expansion, and the eventual Spanish conquest.
Aztec historical traditions differed greatly from the modern western conceptions of history. As seen by the extensive migration stories, cultural history was just important as political or economic history, and often this included embedded myths, such as the leading of the Mexica to Tenochtitlan by the deity Huitzilopochtli, hinted at in the founding image of the Codex Mendoza.
Not only did the ancient civilizations of southern Mexico have their own version of history conceptually, but they also used unique symbols, writing, and calendric systems, all of which are necessary to understand in order to grasp the history of the Mexica as told by their history books.