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General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 28 Mar 2017/2 Flint
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Ian consults Leonardo Lopez Lujan at the Templo Mayor

Ask the Experts!

As an educational team on Mexico and the Aztecs now visiting some 150 primary and middle schools each year, we get asked myriad questions on Aztec/Mexica civilisation, ranging from the predictable to the amusing to the perceptive and truly thought-provoking.

It always seems a shame to us that some of these questions aren’t shared with wider audiences, and given more ‘polished’ and considered answers. So... our plan is to publish the best questions, together with brief but expert answers. We hope that, as the service develops, schools - and everyone - will find this a unique resource - authoritative, balanced, interactive and genuinely accessible.

Winter 2016-17: we are privileged to have an expanding team of - 90! - world-class and distinguished scholars on our Panel. Honorary President Professor Miguel León-Portilla received in 2009 from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) its greatest distinction, the Eagle Warrior Award, a sculpture that represents a Mexica fighter, presented to academics and researchers that have made important contributions to Mexican history.

Above: Mexicolore Director Ian Mursell puts a question on behalf of a school to Dr Leonardo López Luján, Director of the Templo Mayor Project in Mexico City.


Diego Rivera mural of the market of Tlatelolco


A brief appraisal of Miguel León-Portilla’s achievements

2017-03-01Did the Mexica (Aztecs)

allow divorce?

2017-02-01What did the Spanish do after

the native population collapsed?

2017-01-01Why did the Aztecs dance

when they fought?

2016-12-01Is the chewing gum tree

only found in Mexico?

2016-11-01Who invented the

20-day calendar?

2016-10-01Would they have carried on playing

the ballgame in the pouring rain?

2016-09-01Why did houses

have no windows? (2)

2016-08-01What’s the most interesting fact

you’ve come across about the Aztecs? (3)

2016-07-01Did Aztec gods ever make

a sign or an appearance?

2016-06-01What’s the most interesting fact

you’ve come across about the Aztecs?

2016-04-01How long were children held

over smoking chillies for?

2016-03-01After the ballgame, did they do

human sacrifices straight away?

2016-02-01Why did Aztec houses

have no windows?

2016-01-01What has surprised you most

about the Aztecs?

2015-12-01When women went to the market

did people try to steal their babies?

2015-11-01Could Aztec children

go to the market by themselves?

2015-10-01Which was the most sacred

animal for the Aztecs?

2015-09-01Did the Aztecs

have hospitals?

2015-08-01Which was the Aztecs’

favourite game...?

2015-07-01If an Aztec died of old age

how long could they expect to live?

2015-06-01Did the Maya and Aztecs take feathers for headdresses

from other birds [other than quetzals]?

2015-05-01Which was the greatest

Aztec goddess?

2015-04-01Why did [Maya] houses

have no windows?

2015-03-01Have any ancient

rubber balls been found?

2015-02-01If you died of hunger or disease,

which underworld would you go to?

2015-01-01When you find something buried in Mexico,

how do you know it’s Aztec...?

2014-12-01Why is it better to carry loads

using the forehead and not shoulders?

2014-10-01How did the Aztecs decide

what to make their musical instruments out of?

2014-09-01Why were men sacrificed

and not women?

2014-08-01Did the Aztecs bury things

for future generations like us to find?

2014-07-01Why did the gods destroy worlds

they themselves had created?

2014-06-01What was the highest position

an Aztec woman could reach?

2014-05-01Did the Aztecs begin

as a peaceful tribe?

2014-04-01Does anybody know the names

of all the Aztec gods?

2014-03-01Why is the original [Mixtec] gold pendant

in England? Is it pirate gold?

2014-02-01Did the Aztecs

ever meet the Incas?

2014-01-01When did people stop using

cacao beans for money?

2013-12-01Why always THREE

hearth stones?

2013-11-01How did the Aztecs know that this fifth world

would be destroyed in an earthquake?

2013-07-01Which was the second biggest town

or city in Aztec times?

2013-06-01Did the Aztecs have

a particularly BAD ruler?

2013-05-01If warriors turned into butterflies in the afterlife,

what did ordinary Aztec people turn into?

2013-04-01Would an Aztec son always

inherit the family house?

2013-03-01Did the Aztecs breed exotic birds

like the quetzal for their feathers?

2013-02-01How did Aztec scribes

correct their mistakes?

2013-01-01According to ancient myths

how were the stars created?

2012-12-01Which museum has

the most Aztec objects in it?

2012-11-01Did the Aztecs

work at night?

2012-10-01Did Mexica boys and girls receive

the same ‘burning chillies’ punishment?

2012-09-01Why did Aztec shields

have patterns on them?

2012-08-01‘The Aztecs’ most prized possession’

late entry - richly decorated clothing

2012-07-01Did the Mexica have ‘cenotes’

- sacred wells or sinkholes?

2012-05-01Did the Aztecs force you

to be who you were?

2012-04-01How many spectators were there

for the ritual ballgame?

2012-03-01Were medical teams on hand

in case of injuries in the ballgame?

2012-02-01Why did Aztec houses

not have doors?

2012-01-01Was the pottery wheel used

by the Aztecs to make pottery?

2011-12-01What did the Aztecs prize

above all else...?

2011-11-01Why did the Spanish re-bury the statue

of the earth goddess Coatlicue?

2011-10-01What can you do

with an armadillo shell?

2011-09-01The Aztecs said daily prayers

for many, many things...

2011-08-01Where did the intrusive ‘n’

in Montezuma come from?

2011-07-01Were the Aztecs paid to keep

their city of Tenochtitlan clean?

2011-06-01Were eagles and jaguars messengers

when carved on Aztec/Mexica drums?

2011-05-01Were there rich and poor

in Aztec times?

2011-04-01Which animals did the Aztecs sacrifice,

and do people still do this today?

2011-03-01What opportunities were there

to change social class?

2011-02-01How did the Spanish translate Aztec writings?

‘Always easily, but perhaps never perfectly...’

2011-01-01What kinds of gadgets

did the Aztecs use?

2010-12-01Did they have the same

seasons as we do?

2010-11-01Who was healthier in the Late Middle Ages

- the English or the Aztecs?

2010-10-01Did the Aztecs

send mail (post)?

2010-09-01Were there laws governing

when Aztecs could marry?

2010-08-01Archaeological discoveries:

demonized and reburied!

2010-07-01Were the Aztecs warriors

‘from the word go’?

2010-06-01The 20 daysigns on the Sunstone run anti-clockwise

following the direction of ancient sacred circuits

2010-03-01What happened to Aztec/Mexica gods

after the Spanish Conquest? (1)

2010-02-01Wheels are only good if you live

somewhere fairly flat...

2010-01-01Is the language of the Aztecs/Mexica

still taught today in Mexican schools?

2009-12-01The Aztecs communicated with their gods through music

and the sound of animals helped in establishing contact

2009-11-01The Aztec/Mexica broadsword

was a veritable ‘shock weapon’

2009-10-01Just how old

are the codices?

2009-09-01How did the Spanish and the Aztecs

understand each other?

2009-08-01Have traces of real blood been found

on the sacrifice knife blades?

2009-07-01What constellations

did the Aztecs recognise?

2009-06-01It’s the MALE quetzal bird

that has the longest feathers...

2009-05-01Just why did the Aztecs do

‘human sacrifices’?

2009-04-01What tactics did the Aztecs use

when they went to war?

2009-03-01What’s the meaning of the ‘double-5’

domino sign in the Sunstone?

2009-02-01Were the Aztecs

keen on symmetry?

2009-01-01Why were they called

‘chinampas’?

2008-12-01Just in the niche of time

- always up at the ‘crack’ of dawn...

2008-11-01Did Cortés really look

like Quetzalcóatl?

2008-10-01Aqueducts and causeways -

the Aztec solution

2008-08-01How many planets

were the Aztecs aware of?

2008-07-01‘Snake Woman’ - Aztec Superhero?

No. HE was Prime Minister!

2008-06-01The Aztecs saw the earth

as one of 3 vertical levels

2008-03-01Head wounded in battle? Quick! Pee on the wound

then dress it with warm cactus sap...

2008-02-01Just how big

was the Aztec army?

2008-01-01Could(n’t) the Aztec gods

have saved them from the Spanish?

2007-12-01How many words were/are there

in Náhuatl, the Aztec language?

2007-11-01We don’t just get English food words

from the Aztec language...

2007-09-01Many ancient Mexican customs and beliefs

are still visible today in Mexico

2007-08-01Could the Aztecs really have made

a human sacrifice every 10 minutes?

2007-06-01The Conquistadores - in Spain they’re...

...’Heroes with a capital "H"’

2007-05-01Great Snakes!

What do the 2 on the Sunstone mean?

2007-04-01Just how Aztec

is the ‘Day of the Dead’?

2007-02-01Moctezuma’s palace was

truly ‘fit for an emperor’

2007-01-01If you can say the word ‘atlas’ without the ‘as’...

... you can pronounce many Aztec words

2006-12-01The Aztecs and ancient Egypt

were worlds apart in time and space

2006-11-01Would a cocoa bean a day

have kept the doctor away?

2006-10-01‘The strangest discovery I ever made about the Aztecs

is that they wrote beautiful poetry about the shortness of life and what would happen after death’

2006-08-01Snow: brrrrrr...

... sign of a good harvest, or a punishment?

2006-07-01Well and truly stuck -

- up a gum tree...

2006-06-01Aztec jewellery was simply beautiful -

- made with beautifully simple techniques

2006-05-01Aztec skull racks

who were they trying to impress?

2006-04-01Was Huitzilopochtli

the most powerful Aztec god of them all?

2006-02-01Roll your own...

... which came first - to eat or to smoke?

2006-01-01The Aztecs dressed...

... to impress!

2005-12-01‘Beetlemania...’

... seriously bad news!

2005-11-01Face painting...

... was a serious art

2005-10-01In Aztec times...

... ‘money’ truly grew on trees!

2005-09-01More precious than gold...

...’turquoise’ meant much more than just a precious stone

2005-08-01The heart of the matter...

... lay in offerings to the Sun god

2005-06-01Schooling under the Aztecs...

... was pretty much universal

2005-04-01The Aztecs were quick to realise...

... Cortés had nothing in common with a god!

2005-01-01Crime and punishment

under the Aztecs

2004-12-01Aztec women were considered to be warriors..

.... when going through childbirth

2004-11-01We’ve all heard of Moctezuma

- can you name the other Aztec rulers?