General Aztecs Maya Tocuaro Kids Contact 20 Apr 2021/4 Wind
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Listen to a classic: chapter 4 of Soustelle’s ‘Daily Life of the Aztecs...’

Professor Jennifer Mathews

How did they carry the heavy stones to make their temples? asked Takeley Primary School. Read what Professor Jennifer Mathews had to say.

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‘The Last Aztec’ DBC Pierre

IN THE NEWS: ‘The Last Aztec’

Channel 4’s showing of Booker prize-winning author D B C Pierre’s road trip documentary ‘The Last Aztec’ on November 9th. received a mixed reception in the press. For our part, we loved it! (Written/compiled by Ian Mursell/Mexicolore)

Press reviews of ‘The Last Aztec’
Press reviews of ‘The Last Aztec’ (Click on image to enlarge)

‘Channel 4 pop history at its worst’ said The Independent. ‘Trying too hard to be “not just another history documentary” said The Times. The Guardian was less critical of the programme, far more scathing of the Aztecs themselves:-

Sacrificial remains in the churchyard at Mixquic (photo courtesy DBC Pierre)
Sacrificial remains in the churchyard at Mixquic (photo courtesy DBC Pierre) (Click on image to enlarge)

‘And then you could look at these Aztecs, with no metal or wheels, making their crude stone buildings, butchering children and ripping their still-beating hearts from their chests. You could look at the way the Aztecs thought CortĂ©s and his men were gods, and how their cowardly leader Montezuma allowed a handful of Spanish bounty hunters to fell an entire civilisation. You could say the Aztecs were a bunch of girls as well as backward, and their empire was actually a bit crap...’

To label the Aztecs ‘backward’ belies a worryingly common ignorance of the Aztecs - representatives of one of the ‘high civilisations’ of Mesoamerica. To a large extent, it’s precisely to counter this ignorance that our little website exists! At least most commentators were able to agree with the Daily Telegraph’s support for Pierre’s assertion ‘that the spirit and magic of Aztec culture is discernible in most aspects of Mexican culture to this day...’

But Pierre (who grew up in Mexico City, is bilingual, and has a deep respect for the achievements of the Aztecs) revealed his underlying message to us not in ‘The Last Aztec’ but in a private conversation he kindly granted Mexicolore in the summer, when the film was launched at this year’s Hay Festival. ‘While believers around the world today seem set on asking our gods to provide for us and yet we give nothing in return, the Aztecs built their lives on the idea that you have to give first in order to get anything back - and the highest coinage of gift in those days was blood, life itself.’ At the end of the day they strove hard to keep their society, eco-system, world, universe and cosmos in constant balance: something we have singularly failed to do since...

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Mexicolore replies: We’ll keep an ear and eye open, Sandra!
Mexicolore replies: Thanks for this, Gemma: we thoroughly agree!