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The Aztecs

3.78 of 5 stars 3.78  ·  rating details  ·  50 ratings  ·  8 reviews
This is a history of one of the best known peoples of pre-Columbian America. The Aztecs were the upstarts of Meso-America. Until the thirteenth century they were a little-known people practising subsistence agriculture in the north of what is now Mexico. At that time they migrated to the Valley of Mexico, and having first learnt military arts by hiring themselves as mercen ...more
Published (first published 1996)
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Hortense
'Nothing but flowers and songs of sorrow
are left in Mexico and Tlatelolco ..."
-Aztec poem

Is there anything irreversibly repugnant about a social life so fully integrated with the monthly practice of cutting out the hearts of finely adorned victims selected to play the parts of Gods, in a holocaust on a massive scale? The smell of blood on the steps to the sun in Mesoamerica. Can this blood dry the wilted flowers of songs of sorrow in time to be preserved and sung anew, fresh and happy in all the
...more
Amanda
While certainly not the most exciting book you will ever read, if you have any interest whatsoever in Mesoamerica cultures, then you will find elements of this book interesting. The parts about social constructs within the culture as well as religious rituals are especially riveting. Photographs, diagrams, and illustrations are included.
Anastasiya
Useful information on the Aztec life - some history, interpretation of pictography, plenty of archaeological evidence backing up the text. Topics include warfare, merchants, artisanship, gender roles, myths, daily life. Not that much info on various festivals and celebrations.

I particularly recommend it because the author himself participated in many of the digs that he refers to. Both he and his wife are obviously very passionate experts on the subject. Many of the photographs he refers to were
...more
Esther Buddenhagen
This is a combination of excellent anthropology and history written by a guy who really knows his stuff and immerses the reader in the definitely different world of the Aztecs. Definitely worth reading. Mesoamerica is a world that is alien to most Norteamericanos, and this is a crime. We should immerse ourselves in our shared ancestors and relish the experience. This book is a fine place to start.
Alex
This is a textbook; it's not light reading. But it's also the most authoritative account I could find of Aztec culture, and it's very informative. If you can find a more readable book with the same quality of info, I'd love to hear about it; otherwise, this will at least get the job done.
Heidi
Townsend and smith disagree on some point, but then this is still a growing subject and you can kind of expect that.
Dfunky1
This text offers a good introduction to the culture of the Aztecs as well as excellent illustrations.
Cheryl
This book is very informative and interesting--it's not nearly as dry as most textbooks!
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See also:

Michael E. Smith, author on international relations
Michael E. Smith (Derbyshire)

Michael Ernest Smith (born 1953) is an American archaeologist working primarily with Aztec and general Mesoamerican archaeology. He has written numerous scholarly articles about central Mexican archaeology as well as several books about the Aztecs, among them a widely used textbook (Smith 2003). He is currentl
...more
More about Michael E. Smith...
The Ancient Civilizations of Mesoamerica: A Reader The Postclassic Mesoamerican World The Comparative Archaeology of Complex Societies Aztec City-State Capitals Archaeological Research at Aztec-Period Rural Sites in Morelos, Mexico =: Investigaciones Arqueologicas En Sitios Rurales de La Epoca Azteca En Morelos

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