General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 18 Sep 2020/11 Rabbit
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Professor Elizabeth Graham

Question for June 2016

What’s the most interesting fact you’ve come across about the Aztecs? (2) Asked by Witham Hall Prep School. Chosen and answered by Professor Elizabeth Graham.

Aztec slaves. Florentine Codex Book 7
Aztec slaves. Florentine Codex Book 7 (Click on image to enlarge)

The most interesting thing to me is that what people have been calling ‘slavery’ among the Aztecs is not slavery at all, but the Aztec penal system [for punishments]. The Aztecs didn’t have prisons, but when people broke the law or didn’t pay debts (or sometimes were captured in war), they were punished by having to complete tasks or work for individuals. It could be hard labour for sure, but slavery was not inherited, so it was not really ‘slavery’ but a status you had until you fulfilled your obligations.

Scanned from our own copy of the Club Internacional del Libro 3-volume facsimile edition of the Florentine Codex, Madrid, 1994.

Which were the most common crimes among the Aztecs?

See Professor Esther Pasztory’s answer to this question

Professor Elizabeth Graham has answered 9 questions altogether:

What if an Aztec warrior died or was killed in battle (rather than being taken/taking captive)?

Did the Aztecs force you to be who you are?

Did people get paid for cleaning the city?

Did the Aztecs ever meet the Incas?

Why did the gods destroy the four [previous] worlds if they made them in the first place?

When women went to the market with babies on their backs, did other women ever try to steal them?

What’s the most interesting fact you’ve come across about the Aztecs? (2)

What percentage of Aztec society were slaves?

What was the WORST job to have in Aztec times?

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