An Aztec creation myth states that there were four failed attempts to create humans who would survive. It was only on the fifth attempt, when humans began to eat corn, that they were able to propogate themselves and continue as a species.

Dense Network of Amazonian Villages Found with Laser Scanning

Laser scanning technology successfully peered through the Amazon rain forest’s thick canopy to reveal the footprint of a complex network of ancient villages in southeastern Brazil. Dwellings in these little-known settlements, which date to between 1300 and 1700 CE, were built atop raised mounds of earth arranged in a uniform circular pattern around a central plaza. Rather like clock faces according to researchers.

The scans also showed that the villages were connected via an organized system of roads. Most villages had two roads leading away to the north, and two leading away to the south. The roads also varied with some being smaller and sunken into the ground, others larger and protected on the sides by banks.

In total the archaeologists studied some 36 villages. The area appeared densely populated with some villages as little as 2.5 kilometers (1.6 miles) apart.

Corn is a New World crop that was unknown throughout the rest of the world until Columbus accidentally connected Europe with the Americas. But the native words for corn did not become universal: many cultures have names for corn that reference other nation. In some African languages, the word for corn means “Egyptian grain”; in Egypt, corn is called “Syrian” or "Turkish grain”; in France, it is “Indian wheat”; and in India, corn is referred to as “wheat from Mecca.”

The Aztecs believed that a soul-like aspect of oneself left the body while one slept, and spent time in the dream world as a “nagual.” A nagual is a sort of spirit animal (very rough translation). If one’s nagual got hurt, then one’s body got hurt.

Amazonians Protected Enriched Earth Created By Centuries of Ancestors

Evidence for the construction of a wooden palisade fence around a village site and its fields of Amazonian Dark Earths (ADEs) has been uncovered at the Versalles archaeological site. The site sits along the Iténez River in Bolivia, and is being investigated by an international team of researchers, and members of the modern Versalles community.

This particular village grew maize, manioc, and fruit. Their agriculture was made possible by enriching nutrient-poor tropical soils over generations through burning, mulching, and the addition of organic waste products. The earth around Versalles began being enriched around 500 BCE. Then around 1300 CE, the villagers added defensive ditches and embankments which have left traces of a decayed wooden palisade. These were not puny, either, but quite deep ditches, as shown in the picture. It is known that around this time was a period of unrest in Amazonia.

While fortifications have previously been found around such enriched soil in Amazonia, this is the first time that they have yielded the remains of a wooden fence as well.

How the Fortress of Kruševac once looked. This donjon, in Serbia, served as the entrance to a medieval fortified town, the seat of Moravian Serbia (a powerful principality in the late 1300s).

Obsidian Jar From Mexico's Late Postclassical Period (1250–1521)

This highly polished piece, believed to be Aztec, shows a monkey holding his tail over his head. It is one of the star pieces in Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Antropología (National Anthropology Museum). And it could be a fake!

The piece was catalogued in the museum as having come them in 1880 from ‘an ancient tomb, found in the grounds of an hacienda near Tezcoco.' But how did it end up at the museum? The monkey was the subject of an article written in 1884 by the French collector and archaeologist Eugene Boban, who claimed that a Dr. Rafael Lucio had obtained the piece in 1869 after spotting it in the home of a patient of his. The patient had apparently ‘bought the object from a peasant farmer who found it on an hacienda, in exchange for a sheep “worth 12 reales”’. But Boban later wrote that ancient Mexicans ‘never made figures or idols of obsidian’, concentrating their work mainly on masks, jewellery and adornments, concluding ‘all obsidian objects with body, arms and legs can be considered fake.' He would know, as both an expert in Mexican antiquities, and aware of the existence of numerous fake pieces (most importantly including obsidian ones) made somewhere near the small town of San Juan Teotihuacán. If a fake it is one of the most famous fake pre-Columbian Mexican artifacts outside of the crystal skulls. Boban's suspicions about the obsidian monkey has been a continuous feature of the artifact's history. As has its prominence at the Museo Nacional de Antropología.

Bronze Ram on Wheels, from Indonesia's Majapahit Empire

Proving that if it is at all possible, children everywhere want animals on wheels. Circa 1300s - 1400s.

Mis-Named In Mexico

The word 'Olmec' comes from the Nahuatl (or Aztec) word for people living in the Gulf Coast region at the time the Aztecs ruled. Olmecatl means "rubber people," probably due to the area's natural rubber trees and the sap it produced. Of course the Olmecs we think of first appears around 1600 BCE, and the Aztec came to central Mexico around the early 1300s CE. No one knows what the people we call the Olmec once called themselves.

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    HISTORICAL NON-FICTION

    By Lillian Audette

    This blog is a collection of the interesting, the weird, and sometimes the need-to-know about history, culled from around the internet. It has pictures, it has quotes, it occasionally has my own opinions on things. If you want to know more about anything posted, follow the link at the "source" on the bottom of each post. And if you really like my work, buy me a coffee or become a patron!

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