Aztec Florentine Codex Now Online

florentine-codexThe Florentine Codex contains a wealth of information about the Aztecs written by the Aztecs themselves and translated by the Spanish priest Sahagun. Having been completed in 1577 the book has now finally arrived on the Internet. Find out more below:

Historia general de las cosas de nueva España (General history of the things of New Spain) is an encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico compiled by Fray Bernardino de Sahagún (1499–1590), a Franciscan missionary who arrived in Mexico in 1529, eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest by Hernan Cortés. Commonly called the Florentine Codex, the manuscript came into the possession of the Medici no later than 1588 and is now in the Medicea Laurenziana Library in Florence. Sahagún began conducting research into indigenous cultures in the 1540s, using a methodology that scholars consider to be a precursor to modern anthropological field technique. His motives were primarily religious: he believed that to convert the natives to Christianity and eradicate their devotion to false gods, it was necessary to understand those gods and the hold they had on the Aztec people. Sahagún was repelled by much of native culture, but he also came to admire many qualities of the Aztecs. As he wrote in the prologue to Book I of his work, the Mexicans “are held to be barbarians and of very little worth; in truth, however, in matters of culture and refinement, they are a step ahead of other nations that presume to be quite politic.” Sahagún gained the assistance of two important indigenous groups: the elders of a number of towns in central Mexico (principales) and Nahua students and former students at the College of Santa Cruz in Tlatelolco, where Sahagún worked for much of his time in Mexico. The principales answered questionnaires prepared by Sahagún about their culture and religion, and their responses were recorded in their own pictorial form of writing. The Nahua students interpreted the images and expanded the answers, phonetically transcribing Nahuatl using Latin letters. Sahagún then reviewed the Nahuatl text and added his own Spanish translation. The whole process took almost 30 years and finally was completed in 1575–77, when Sahagún had a new and complete copy of the manuscript prepared.

Read the full account here: http://www.wdl.org/en/item/10096/#regions=latin-america-and-the-caribbean

Mexico Aztec god carving may be emperor’s headstone

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Archeologists say a giant, ornate carving of an Aztec god recently unveiled in downtown Mexico City could be a massive headstone in honor of one of the civilization’s last rulers.

Scientists say the 12.4 ton stone cutting, which is covered with a vast, heavily detailed full-body engraving of earth god Tlaltecuhtli, is one of the most important Aztec finds ever.

The 11-foot long monolith was first made public in October. It is broken into several pieces but otherwise in excellent condition, archeologists said.

They have spent weeks scraping dirt and debris from the piece and now say it may be the headstone of Ahuizotl, the eighth Aztec ruler, whose successor Moctezuma II governed at the start of the Spanish conquest of Mexico.

The headstone is decorated with the carved image of a deity with a giant male head ringed by masses of curly hair and a sharp extended tongue representing a stream of blood.

Skulls and crossed bones surround the body, as well as a rabbit and several dots thought to be a time stamp dating the sculpture to 1502.
Read the entire article here: http://www.reuters.com/article/scienceNews/idUSN1624761620061117

Aztec Offerings Found in Bottom of Mexico Lake

MEXICO CITY — Archaeologists diving into a lake in the crater of a snowcapped volcano found wooden scepters shaped like lightning bolts that match 500-year-old descriptions by Spanish priests and conquerors writing about offerings to the Aztec rain god.

The lightning bolts — along with cones of copal incense and obsidian knives — were found during scuba-diving expeditions in one of the twin lakes of the extinct Nevado de Toluca volcano, at more than 13,800 feet above sea level.

Scientists must still conduct tests to determine the age of the findings, but the writings after the Spanish conquest in 1521 have led them to believe the offerings were left in the frigid lake west of Mexico City more than 500 years ago.

Lightning bolt scepters “were used by Aztec priests when they were doing rites associated with the god Tlaloc,” said Johan Reinhard, an anthropologist and explorer-in-residence for National Geographic Society who took part in more dives Thursday at the Lake of the Moon. “We think it is pretty clear that the Aztecs considered this one of the more important places of Tlaloc.”

Read the full story here: http://www.livescience.com/history/070527_ap_aztec_artifacts.html

Aztec Math Decoded, Reveals Woes of Ancient Tax Time

Brian Handwerk
for National Geographic News

April 3, 2008

Today’s tax codes are complicated, but the ancient Aztecs likely shared your pain. To measure tracts of taxable land, Aztec mathematicians had to develop their own specialized arithmetic, which has only now been decoded.

By reading Aztec records from the city-state of Tepetlaoztoc, a pair of scientists recently figured out the complicated equations and fractions that officials once used to determine the size of land on which tributes were paid.

Two ancient codices, written from A.D. 1540 to 1544, survive from Tepetlaoztoc. They record each household and its number of members, the amount of land owned, and soil types such as stony, sandy, or “yellow earth.”

“The ancient texts were extremely detailed and well organized, because landowners often had to pay tribute according to the value of their holdings,” said co-author Maria del Carmen Jorge y Jorge at the National Autonomous University in Mexico City, Mexico.

The Aztecs recorded only the total area of each parcel and the length of the four sides of its perimeter, Jorge y Jorge explained.

Officials calculated the size of each parcel using a series of five algorithms—including one also employed by the ancient Sumerians—she added.

Read the full story here: http://news.nationalgeographic.com/news/2008/04/080403-aztec-math.html

Ancient pyramid found in central Mexico City

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) – Archeologists have discovered the ruins of an 800-year-old Aztec pyramid in the heart of the Mexican capital that could show the ancient city is at least a century older than previously thought.

Mexican archeologists found the ruins, which are about 36 feet (11 metres) high, in the central Tlatelolco area, once a major religious and political centre for the Aztec elite.

Since the discovery of another pyramid at the site 15 years ago, historians have thought Tlatelolco was founded by the Aztecs in 1325, the same year as the twin city of Tenochtitlan nearby, the capital of the Aztec empire, which the Spanish razed in 1521 to found Mexico City, conquering the Aztecs.

The pyramid, found last month as part of an investigation begun in August, could have been built in 1100 or 1200, signalling the Aztecs began to develop their civilization in the mountains of central Mexico earlier than believed.

Read the entire story here:
http://uk.reuters.com/article/newsOne/idUKN2742810220071228?pageNumber=2&virtualBrandChannel=0&sp=true

For ‘ancient grains,’ a future in the American diet

ALBANY, New York (AP) — Amid the aisles of spaghetti and canned peas, cereals and breads made with mysterious-sounding grains such as amaranth and quinoa are sprouting up at major supermarkets.

Wheat is still king of this country’s whole grains, but the appearance of such alternatives indicates consumers are beginning to expand a niche market once relegated to the obscure corners of health food stores.

“People are realizing there’s a benefit to eating a diversity of grains — and these grains have some incredible nutritional properties,” said Carole Fenster, an author of numerous cookbooks that incorporate wheat-free grains.

New federal guidelines recommending three servings of whole grains a day have put a spotlight on wheat, but exposure to barley, brown rice and other options has also grown, said Alice Lichtenstein, chair of the nutrition committee at the American Heart Association.

According to the marketing information company ACNielsen, sales of products with whole grain claims on their packages for the year ending April 22 increased 9.5 percent from the previous year.

NuWorld Amaranth, one of the country’s main buyers of amaranth, reported a 300 percent increase in sales in the past three years. Bob’s Red Mill, which sells alternative wheat-free grains, saw a 25 percent increase in sales in the past year, with quinoa driving the bulk of the growth.

Amaranth, grown for millennia by the Aztecs, has twice as much iron as wheat and is higher in protein and fiber. Quinoa, an ancient Andean crop, has less fiber but more protein and iron than wheat.

READ THE WHOLE STORY AT THE FOLLOWING LINK:

http://www.cnn.com/2006/HEALTH/06/21/alternative.grains.ap/index.html