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Published: 15.12.2014. Category: Music Tattoo Designs

The wild swings in weather that are expected to become commonplace as the planet gets warmer—more frequent and severe droughts, followed by drenching rains—change ecosystems in a way that awaken and expedite the transmission of once dormant diseases. Intriguingly, this type of weather pattern may be what led to the fall of the once mighty Aztec Empire in the early 16th century–and not as is commonly held, by the invasion of European colonialists, who brought with them diseases like mumps, measles and smallpox for which the native populations lacked immunity. When Hernando Cortes and his army conquered Mexico starting in 1519, there were roughly about 25 million people living in what is now Mexico. To find answers, Acuna-Soto spent a dozen year poring through ancient documents written by 16th century Spanish priests who worked with the Aztecs to preserve a record of their history, language and culture. Acuna-Soto also had access to exhaustive diaries kept by Francisco Hernandez, the surgeon general of New Spain who witnessed the second catastrophic epidemic in 1576. In his research, Acuna-Soto had noticed a pattern: the plague was preceded by years of severe drought but the epidemics occurred only during wet weather, and heavy rainfall. The tree rings indicated that the most severe and sustained drought in North America in the past 500 years occurred in the mid-16th century. Acuna-Soto is now convinced that the death knell for the Aztecs was an indigenous hemorrhagic fever virus spread by rodents, not the Spanish conquest. As weather swings become more erratic and the Southwest bakes under increasingly prolonged droughts, epidemics like cocolitzli will doubtless return.
The Spaniards would doubtlessly have been wealthier- with better access to food, medical care, cleaner conditions and less cramped living. With hemorrhagic fevers transmitted through rodents, the only real way to avoid sickness is to avoid rodents.
So it was the Spaniards driving all over the New World in their SUVs and burning coal in their power plants that caused such dramatic climate conditions?
The Europeans had developed immunity to these diseases, after being exposed to the bacteria for dozens of centuries.
In fact, Americans undoubtedly were exposed to countless pathogens over the millennia, and yet that didn’t help them against small pox.
The article presents an intriguing hypothesis, but I hasn’t really nailed the thing down. And now destabilisation of the climate leading to Global Warming’s the big thing so of course we get rewrites of history. Me own personal conclusion was their complete and catastrophic loss of their centuries old lifestyles and beliefs as a result of total defeat led to massive depression and a lethal impairment of their immune systems’ abilities to handle both European diseases and local environmental setbacks. The Spanish on the other hand were subject to an entire continent’s worth of unknown diseases as well as exactly the same environmental setbacks as the natives yet their overwhelming victories plus the fact they were the ones imposing the culture seemed to enhance and strengthen their immune systems. Sounds like the planet might finally be rid of the parasite which has inflicted it for eons. The CruxA collection of bright and big ideas about timely and important science from a community of experts.
The Aztecs had a highly complex social structure, where both formal and informal laws governed the life of the citizen from birth to death.
Few formal laws applied to an Aztec before he was born, but a number of customary prohibitions exist for his protection. From birth to age three, the complex web of legal and social rules that will soon govern his life only lightly affected an Aztec.
From age three to four, children received some degree of instruction as to what it was to be a good or bad child, but this was not yet the official training they would receive later. Formal education began around age five or six and it was considered vital that all children be taught to be obedient, respectful and honest.
Children were now given tasks that included carrying water, collecting firewood, carrying bundles to the market, fishing and collecting maize grains from the floor of the marketplace.
A variety of punishments were lain out for children of both sexes between the ages of 8 and 12.
The state seems to have had some interest in the rearing of its citizen’s children seeing as Aztec mothers feared punishments from Aztec judges if their daughters failed to act properly by age 14.
Between the ages of 12 and 15, all children were required to attend cuicacalli (“house of song”) schools. Aztec children were legally bound to obey and respect their parents such that parents could bring their children to court if they proved particularly deviant.
There were six deadly sins an Aztec youth was taught to avoid at all cost, including becoming a vagabond, thief, excessive ball player, gambler, gossip or drunkard. Thieves will be dealt with in a later section, but suffice it to say that theft was severely frowned upon by Aztec society and typically warranted execution. Gossips were described as “discourteous, evil-spoken, great talkers, big mouthed, belittling, sower’s of discord and spreaders of tales. Age 15 marks a significant turning point in the life of an Aztec male as he was admitted to a school of higher learning to obtain the skills he would need throughout the rest of his life. Battles usually began at daybreak and continued until one side of the other surrendered, or until night.
That is a pretty standard description, but the goal was victory, so there are many cases where the Aztecs tried to find traitors in the cities they were targetting to show them ways around and then they would engage the enemy army from the front while they sent other soldiers around the back to attack and take the city. Aztec warriors take part in the destruction of Culhuacan: torching the thatched roof of a temple was a traditional gesture of conquest. A hundred years later, after a series of epidemics decimated the local population, perhaps as few as 1.2 million natives survived.

Rodolfo Acuna-Soto, a Harvard-trained infectious disease specialist at the National Autonomous University of Mexico in Mexico City, it made no sense that a deadly outbreak of European origin could occur so long after the Spanish arrived, because the natives who survived previous plagues would have passed on their immunities. He described a highly contagious and lethal scourge that killed within a few days, causing raging fevers, jaundice, tremors, dysentery, abdominal and chest pains, enormous thirst, delirium and seizures. To confirm his observations, Acuna-Soto worked with a Mexican-American team of dendrochronologists—scientists who study tree rings to date changes in climate—and compared the 16th century historical accounts with tree-ring records from a forest of 450-year-old Douglas fir trees in a remote region of central Mexico near Durango. But there were heavy downpours in the years around 1545 and 1576, which coincided with the cocolitzli outbreaks.
But once the rains returned, food and water were suddenly plentiful and the number of infected rats exploded, spreading the deadly scourge to humans.
I say we get some smart people devoted to creating a way to quell major influxes of rodent populations in order to prevent outbreaks.
The Aztecs had no immunity to these new bacteria, which they had never been exposed to until the Spanish arrived. This supposedly is some sort of indigenous hemorrhagic fever, which Europeans would have had no greater immunity to than Indians. There’s no reason to think immunity to a bunch of other things would protect Europeans from this. But this one seems to have been carried by a common rodent that frequented human habitations. Why would anyone imagine the diseases could have come from the Spanish, after never existing in this region until they arrived? A citizen of the empire was expected to live an obedient, ordered life in service of the state.
Pregnant women were forbidden to lift heavy objects, take excessive sweat-baths or engage in excessive sex (they thought the fetus would be glued to the womb). They were advised not to eat tamales that stuck to the side of a cooking pot for fear that the child would do the same in her womb.
Complex divinations were performed using the child’s day sign to determine both his name, and their most auspicious career path. A good child was one who was healthy, strong and happy, while a bad child was sickly, maimed or violent in temperament. Pages accompanied young noblemen to ensure that they would bow and issue proper greetings to those of higher station.
Formal punishments did not seem to apply quite yet, but children of this age received lengthy speeches from their parents about what it meant to live in the Aztec world.
Children were again admonished to be obedient, honest, discreet, respectable, modest and energetic and modest in all things. If scolding didn’t work, a parent could threaten to pierce their male child’s body with maguey spines at age 8, actually use the spines at age 9, beat him with a stick at 10, hold him over a fire and force him to inhale chili smoke at age 11 and bind him hand and foot, forcing him to lay on a wet mat in the cold at age 12. If scolding didn’t work, girls received punishments similar to those of their male brethren. These schools were adjacent to major temples with classes beginning and hour before sundown and lasting late into the night. The range of punishments a court could issue included beatings, disinheritance (particularly worrisome for young nobles) and death although death, was reserved for the children of nobility who were disrespectful, cowardly or cheap. Aztec society had little love for drifters or the idle, so being a vagabond was said to have severe supernatural consequences.
Excessive ball playing and gambling is an interesting topic, because the negative connotation isn’t the sport itself, but the wagering affiliated with it. There was great disdain for public drunkenness as it was viewed as robbing the individual of their faculty of reason and created great discord that was an affront to the state as a whole.
Students who drank wine, committed severe infractions of school rules or slept around were “burned, or strangled, or cast into fire alive or shot with arrows.” Lighter infractions including failure to speak well or greet others properly were greeted with the drawing of blood from the student’s ears and sides with maguey spines or pieces of sharpened bone. These schools focused on military training as all adult males, noble and commoner alike, were required to serve in the Aztec military. The standard attack was for the king or general to signal the start of a battle with a drum or conch-shell trumpet. Once they did, they usually burned the main temple, probably because the main armory was located by it, and once the smoke was seen on the battlefield, it was all over, because the enemy had no place to retreat to and no new weapons for resupply.
Records confirm there was a smallpox epidemic in 1519 and 1520, immediately after the Europeans arrived, killing between 5 and 8 million people.
In particular, they detailed the plagues of cocoliztli (Nahuati for “pest”), a disease that seemed far more virulent than smallpox. Also, the indigenous mass depopulations in the New World were not at all limited to Mexico or a short 16th century time window, as _1491_ and earlier, _Guns, Germs and Steel_ have discussed in detail. They were also sternly warned not to have an abortion because pregnancy was seen as a sign that the gods favored the women and to defy them is to incur their wrath. She shouldn’t go out at night without spreading ash, a pebble or wormwood on her chest because the wandering apparitions of women who died in childbirth would prey on her unborn child.
An Aztec boy was presented with a small shield a bow and four arrows to symbolize his future as a warrior, while an Aztec girl was presented with a spindle to represent her future as homemaker. It was believed that a family had to “stretch” their child on a regular basis if they were to grow properly during the year.
Commoners were instructed to work diligently and “do what pertains to your office, labor, sow and plant your trees, and live by the sweat of your brow.

Children were taught that life was a painful and dangerous thing and taught to proceed with moderation, humility and diligence. One nobleman laid out eight rules for his child which included avoiding excess rest, being prudent in travel, speaking slowly and deliberately, refraining from staring, not gossiping, responding immediately to summons, being moderate in dress and washing hands before eating and refraining from gluttony. At age 8, they were threatened with maguey spines, at 9, their hands may be pierced, at 10 a girl could be beaten with a stick for spinning cotton poorly, and from 11 and up, she could be forced to inhale chili smoke over a fire.
Properly woven outfits were a sign of good moral character, while crooked seams and edges indicated crooked or perverse character. Aztec children were taught to sing and dance and continued to do so throughout their stay in the cuicacalli school. Parents who could not afford additional children could obtain permission from the courts to sell their children into slavery. There seems to be no small fear of gambling addiction in Aztec society and there are numerous stories of Aztec citizens having to sell themselves into slavery to get out of debts incurred by a bad throw of the dice or failure of a popular ball team. An Aztec child was counseled to speak clearly and on matters of import, and to perfect speech in the fashion of an orator, not a gossip. Calmecac schools provided the empire with its priests, generals, judges and senior administrators. Then the elite military orders (like knight) advanced first, followed by the other military orders, then the veterans and other warriors, including the novices. A major goal was to break through the opposing formation so your own troops could pour through and attack the enemy from the sides and rear, but that was very difficult to do since both sides had basically the same weapons and tactics. But it was two cataclysmic epidemics that occurred in 1545 and 1576, 25 and 55 years after the Spanish conquest, which swept through the Mexican highlands and claimed as many as 17 million lives. Large Epidemics of Hemorrhagic Fevers in Mexico 1545-1815. The American Society of Tropical Medicine and Hygiene, 62 (6), 733-739. This path is a fusion of rigorously ingrained customary law and brutally enforced statutory law.
Prospective mothers should not look at a hanged person because the child will be born strangled by their umbilical cord. After the appropriate ceremonies were complete, Aztec children were more or less free to enjoy their childhood until age three.
This stretching spared neither male nor female and involved the parents pulling of the child’s hands, fingers, arms, legs, feet, neck, noses and ears.
At this point, it seems that formal punishments were more of an intense reproach as opposed to the physical punishments that begin at age 8. Cotton cloaks were a primary source of tribute and a potent symbol of the nobility, so one could infer that the powers that be had a vested economic and social interest in the weaving skills of their subjects.
These occasions include childbirth, certain religious days and for people who were engaged in a particularly difficult form of labor. Each school required its students to work day and night under a curriculum that combined intense academic activity with grueling physical labor.
After five years of education, nobles and commoners alike were believed to be sufficiently educated to take their place in Aztec society and moved on to their next great venture in life…marriage. The battle itself usually started with a barrage of arrow and slingstones, and the soldiers on both sides advanced, probably running, over the 60 yards or so, until they met. However, since the Aztecs usually had the larger army, they would extend their front until they could go around the ends of their enemies, and then attack from the rear or sides. She should also avert her eyes from an eclipse or the rising moon, because this action would cause her children to become hair-lipped (although placing an obsidian knife in her bosom would protect her from the rising moon part). Children also had to be stretched during earthquakes because it was feared that they would grow no further if stretching wasn’t performed quickly. The main exception was for people who had children and grandchildren or were over the age of 70. General skills imparted were, oration, songs, histories, calenderics, interpretation of dreams and omens, and combat training.
As they ran, the frontmost soldiers used their atlatls to fling darts at the enemy, but once the two sides met, the barrages stopped, to avoid hitting their own men, and the battle became hand to hand, using oak broadswords edged with obsidian blades, or thrusting spears. In the final months of pregnancy, the woman was to be provided with anything she requested and she was not allowed to sleep during the day or look at anything frightening, offending or red. If one-stepped over a child, he had to quickly step backward over them or his growth would be stunted.
It is here that future judges learned their legal skills and priests entered the priesthood. Children were also prevented from drinking before their older siblings for fear that they would cease to grow (in addition to reinforcing age distinctions). For a first offense of public drunkenness, the offending party had their head shaved and their house destroyed as they were thought unfit to associate with polite society.

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