SECRETS OF THE DEAD: Aztec Massacre
Airs Wednesday, October 26, 2011 at 10 p.m. on KPBS TV
Monday, July 18, 2011
Credit: Courtesy of WNET New York Public Media
Throughout recent times, historians have believed that when the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Aztec territory in the 15th century, they were welcomed as returning light-skinned gods by the Aztecs, who put up little resistance to their conquest. But now, a new find outside of Mexico City is turning history on its head.
The discovery: more than 400 bodies, many of which show signs of having been mutilated and even eaten. More important, more than 40 of the bodies appear to be European, indicating that the Aztecs not only resisted the invaders, they sacrificed them to their gods, pulling their still-beating hearts from chests and stringing their heads (along with the heads of their horses) on wooden skull racks for public display.
Exploring the archeology of the site, the forensics of the bones and beautiful but grotesque codices that document the events, "Aztec Massacre" paints a new picture of the violent relations between the Aztecs and the conquistadors and rewrites much of what we thought we knew about the Aztec civilization.
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