General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 27 May 2019/12 Rabbit
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Professor Eric Taladoire

Question for September 2015

Did the Aztecs have hospitals? Asked by Sandy Lane Primary School. Chosen and answered by Professor Eric Taladoire.

Pic 1: Fever; Florentine Codex, Book X
Pic 1: Fever; Florentine Codex, Book X (Click on image to enlarge)

As far as we know, the Aztecs did not have hospitals. Neither did we, in Europe, at the time. Of course, there were some specialists perfectly able to perform medical attention, even if doctors probably belonged to the religious caste. Medical attention was deeply intertwined with religious practices and beliefs. But we must draw attention to several aspects that suggest a high degree, among the Aztecs, of medical knowledge. To begin with, the Aztecs, and the other Mesoamerican civilizations, were deeply preoccupied with hygiene and tidiness. This helped prevent epidemics. We know that the Aztecs were horrified by the Spaniards’ lack of hygiene, by their dirtiness.

Pic 2: Treating hemorrhroids; Florentine Codex Book X
Pic 2: Treating hemorrhroids; Florentine Codex Book X (Click on image to enlarge)

Secondly, the practice of human sacrifice had given the Aztecs a deep knowledge of the human body, as exemplified in many documents.
This probably helped them to organize a coherent body of medical specialists, quite able to cope with wounds, illness and other medical problems of everyday life.

Picture sources:-
Images from the Florentine Codex (original in the Biblioteca Medicea Laurenziana, Florence) scanned from our own copy of the Club Internacional del Libro 3-volume facsimile edition, Madrid, 1994.

How was the Aztec army provisioned and how did they treat wounds?

Professor Eric Taladoire has answered 5 questions altogether:

Did the Aztecs have hospitals?

Did they have medical teams on hand [in the ballgame] in case there were injuries?

How many people watched the [ball]game?

After the ballgame, did they perform the sacrifice(s) straight away...?

Would they have carried on playing the ballgame if it was pouring with rain?

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