General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 23 Apr 2019/4 Jaguar
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Article suitable for Top Juniors and above

Dr. Anastasia Kalyuta

Question for April 2019

Did the Aztecs invent anything that we still use today? Asked by Sheringdale Primary School. Chosen and answered by Dr. Anastasia Kalyuta.

Maize seller, Florentine Codex Book 10
Maize seller, Florentine Codex Book 10 (Click on image to enlarge)

Probably, young audiences will be pleased to know that the Aztecs can be considered inventors of pop-сorn and chewing gum. Roasted on the open fire, roasted maize grain served as staple food for Aztec warriors during campaigns, for they were nutritious, easy to transport and could be kept for long times. Therefore state lands used to sustain troops were called cacalomilli - “fields of cacalotl”, that long fork used for roasting maize grain.
As for chewing gum, chictli, the Aztecs obtained the resin of the tropical tree Manilkara zapota growing in southern Mexico and Central America. Like today chewing gum was used to clean the mouth after meals and freshen the breath. However, chewing chictli in public was considered a sign of very bad manners proper only for ‘women of ill repute’.

Image 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.

‘Strictly ‘tzictli’ – sticky chicle!’ - learn more about the Aztecs and chewing gum

Dr. Anastasia Kalyuta has answered 2 questions altogether:

If someone tried to commit suicide, would they have been punished?

Did the Aztecs invent anything that we still use today?

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