The Sierra-Texupan Codex: Three Cultural Traditions, Two Writing Systems, and One Shopping List

Europeans, speaking Spanish, Italian and French, had to communicate with indigenous peoples through Nahuatl, the lingua franca under the Aztecs. Once the dust settled after the Spanish conquest of the Aztec Empire in the year 1521, a new government system was established in Mesoamerica, the region spanning present-day Mexico and Central America. That was the[…]

The Role of Smallpox in the Spanish Conquest of the Aztecs 500 Years Ago

Hernán Cortés owed his conquest of the Aztecs to his expedition’s unknown, unseen secret weapon: the smallpox virus. Disease epidemics can set the course of human history. Recent outbreaks in the U.S. have drawn attention to the dangers of measles. The Democratic Republic of Congo is fighting a deadly outbreak of Ebola that has killed hundreds. Epidemics are[…]

The Fourth Skull: A Tale of Authenticity and Fraud

This is a story of four different skulls that reached three of the world’s largest museums under less than transparent circumstances. By Dr. Jane MacLaren Walsh and Dr. David HuntWalsh: Anthropologist Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution Museum of Natural HistoryHunt: Professional Lecturer in Anthropology, George Washington University Introduction This is a story of four different skulls that[…]

Emperors, Gods, and Foreign Invaders of the Aztec Empire

Moctezuma I expanded the Aztec Empire beyond the Valley of Mexico by constantly waging war. Introduction As the city of Tenochtitlán grew, the Aztec fought for dominance over other city-states in the area. In 1428 CE, Tenochtitlán formed a Triple Alliance with the cities of Texcoco and Tlacopan in the Valley of Mexico.These three cities[…]

Tenochtitlán: Aztec City on the Water’s Edge

The Aztec empire existed more than 500 years after the Maya abandoned their great inland city-states. Introduction Did you know that the modern capital of Mexico, Mexico City, was built on top of another city? If you visit Mexico City today, you can see archaeologists at work.They are busy uncovering the ancient city of Tenochtitlán.[…]