Saturday, 11 February 2012

The Aztecs, A Very Short Introduction

Who were the Aztecs? In this riveting little book David Carrasco takes us back to the time of the Aztecs. Although the book is short, it is very heavy on content,  drawing on a wide variety of sources.

From contemporary accounts by the Aztecs themselves (although they attempted to destroy all of the pictorial records of the Aztecs the Spaniards failed in this aim) from the Spanish invaders, from archaeological excavations, etc, Carrasco is able to provide detailed accounts of how the Aztecs lived, their religious practices including ritual sacrifices of humans and the ritualistic consumption of human flesh.  

He explores the rich cultural heritage of the Aztecs (tracing them back through earlier kingdoms such as the Toltecs) their history, their religious ceremonies, their foods, the banqueting habits of their rulers, their agriculture, their understanding of and use of astronomical phenomena and so forth. It also contains interesting snippets of information. For example we find out that the first Spaniards to arrive their were not who we have probably have been taught. And that there was at least one example of a Spanish soldier who fought on the side of the Aztecs, against his fellow Spaniards. 

He explores how and why the empire failed and died.

Carrasco also takes time to look at the Aztecs of today, and how there is even something of a return of the Aztecs.

The book contains many useful and interesting drawings and photographs. Curiously, all are rendered in black and white.

The book is published by the Oxford University Press in paperback and costs £7.99 or £11.95.

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