Washington, September 2 : Historians have suggested that an isolated Pacific coastal island called Mexcaltitan may be the place of origin of the ancient Aztecs.
For local officials and some historians, Mexcaltitan is nothing less than the mythical Aztlan, birthplace of the ancient Aztecs, according to a report by the Cox News Service.
According to legend, the Aztecs left an island in 1091 and wandered for two centuries before settling in what is now Mexico City.
There, they founded the legendary city of Tenochtitlan, an island city of canals and floating gardens, and lorded over an empire that stretched from Guatemala to northern Mexico before the Spanish conquered them in 1521.
In Mexcaltitan, located in the Pacific state of Nayarit, clues that this was once Aztlan are tantalizing.
In Nahuatl, the language of the Aztecs (who called themselves the Mexica), Aztlan means "place of whiteness" or "place of herons."
The village is indeed a favorite haunt of white herons, which nest in the surrounding lagoon, as well as seasonal blooms of white water lilies.
Hector Apodaca, a guide at the village's museum, has said that local fishing holes have the same names as Aztec places like Toluca.
Apodaca said that Cora Indians, who were among the last indigenous groups to be subdued by the Spanish and speak a version of Nahuatl, still come to the island every year to make offerings.
"That's because they believe that this was a ceremonial center of the Mexica," he said.
Others point to Mexcaltitan's striking physical resemblance to Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital whose ruins sit under Mexico City.
Some historians have said that Mexcaltitan's circular shape and cruciform design are similar to that of Tenochtitlan, which Spanish conquistador Bernal Diaz described as "an enchanted vision."
Tenochtitlan was destroyed in 1521, long before the invention of the camera, and officials in Mexcaltitan say their village is the closest thing to a living replica.
Local officials are so certain that Mexcaltitan is Aztlan that they've dubbed the state of Nayarit the "cradle of Mexicaness" and changed the state's official seal to include a diagram of the Aztecs' departure from Mexcaltitan.
But, despite the local certainty, historical debate rages on, as no definitive archeological evidence has yet been uncovered to prove Mexcaltitan's connection to Tenochtitlan.