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The Aztecs (Ancient Peoples and Places)

Richard F. Townsend

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The Aztecs were among the most dynamic and feared peoples of ancient Mexico, and Richard Townsend’s masterly study presents a vivid account of their story


From their remote origins as migrating tribes to their rise as builders of empire, the Aztecs were among the most dynamic and feared peoples of ancient Mexico. This fully revised and reorganized third edition of Richard Townsend’s masterly study presents an expanded view of their history and cultural achievement and includes colour plates for the first time.

The book begins with a vivid evocation of the coronation rites of a new emperor, conveying the richness and diversity of Aztec civilization. Great weight is given to the influence of preceding cultures at Teotihuacan, Xochicalco and Tula. Remarkable new discoveries are described, especially the huge 12-ton monolith of the goddess Tlaltecuhtli found in the Great Pyramid precinct. A breakthrough in hieroglyphic decipherment reveals that many phonetic elements combine with pictographic forms in Aztec script, recalling conventions of Classic Maya writing.

This edition ends with the conquest of Tenochtitlan by Spanish and Indian allies, as seen from the Aztec viewpoint, and the Conclusion points out the importance of the Aztec legacy in the formation of modern Mexico.

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'Comprehensive, exceedingly well-researched. … Highly recommended for the general reader or as the best available introduction to a complex subject'
William S. Dancey, Ohio State University

'A remarkably fresh and beautifully produced scholarly study … you will read it with pleasure'
The Times Literary Supplement

'Essential purchase for the Mesoamerican shelf'

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Product Information

Book Details

Format: Paperback

Edition Type: Third edition

Size: 24.1 x 15.9 cm

Extent: 256 pp

Illustrations: 163

Publication date: 22 February 2010

ISBN: 9780500287910

Contents List

Introduction • I. Coronation at Tenochtitlan • II. Urban Traditions, Tribal Peoples III. New Strategies, New Conquests • IV. Aztec Religion and World View • V. Aztec People and the Cycle of Life • VI. The Conquest of Mexico

About the Author

Richard Townsend is Curator of the Department of Africa, Oceania and the Americas at the Art Institute of Chicago.