General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 24 Sep 2017/13 Flint
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Your Aztec Homework Helper

Your Aztec Homework Helper

Jeremy Smith, Ticktock Media Ltd., 2004

Smartly presented, lavishly illustrated, the book’s strength lies in its use (‘on every single page’!) of primary source material with clear references and helpful glossaries

The vast majority of documentary sources are Spanish, dating from after the Conquest. Inevitably this puts a certain gloss or ‘spin’ on the interpretations given. Moreover errors have crept in in listing the sources: twice (p19 & p27) Miguel León-Portilla’s book ‘Aztec Thought and Culture’ is given as ‘16th century’, when it was written in 1963! And the image of a nobleman on p22 is NOT from the Codex Mendoza

There are several other odd errors: the two maps on p5 are carelessly presented the wrong way round, which will only confuse children; the muralist Diego Rivera’s name is given as Riveria (p16); the chinampas weren’t in fact ‘small floating gardens on reed rafts’ (p17); the Aztecs predicted the end of the fifth world era through earthquakes NOT fiery rain (p20); only 4 of the 20 ‘day’ signs were used for naming years (p20)

Some rather sweeping statements are made that may easily lead to exaggeration and confusion: ‘Only one pre-conquest example of Aztec writing survives’ (p10) gives the impression that only one pre-Hispanic codex exists; ‘Girls did not go to school at all’ (p18): this is far from certain - as Dr. Joanne Harwood writes in our Ask the Experts pages ‘others suggest that there was an annex to the calmecac which girls attended, where they learned to spin, weave, prepare food and serve in the temples’; no source is given for the inflated figure of ‘136,000 human skulls’ on the tzompantli at the Great Temple, and incidentally the skull rack was not ‘a cage/box’ (p25), it was an integral part of the building’s walls


Overall
Recommended - despite the mistakes...