How To Find A Spouse, Aztec-Style

Aztecs used matchmakers! When a family had an eligible son, the parents would ask for the help of a matchmaker to find a potential wife. The bridegroom was usually around 20 years old. The matchmaker would put two families in contact. If the families agreed, and the match was liked by the community, the parents of the groom would offer a bride-price for the bride. When the bride's parents accepted the bride-price a wedding could be planned!

How many human sacrifices did the Aztec make, really?

The most recent archaeological evidence suggests a consistent pattern of finding between 90-150 individual remains at each of the the major archaeological sites in Mexico City. Based on the age of the city, and the Aztec religious calendar, the math suggests the Aztecs sacrificed 18 to 25 individuals every year. This might go up during times of stress. We have at least one recorded drought when they increased the number of human sacrifices in response. But in general, this is a much lower number than the popular imagination would have you believe. Another win for archaeology!

Genetics Find Contact Between Polynesians and Native Americans 1200 Years Ago

A genetic study provides evidence of contact between ancient Polynesians and indigenous South Americans around 1200 CE. The study compared DNA from more than 800 people from Polynesian islands and South America's Pacific Coast. The analyses found that some people from Rapa Nui (Easter Island) and nearby surrounding islands have Native American ancestry, which comes from individuals of the pre-Columbian Zenu culture. The pre-Columbian Zenu lived around 1200 CE in what is today Colombia. The geneticists suggest that Polynesians journeyed to South America, bringing back Zenu individuals to the Marquesas and starting families with them. Alternatively, South Americans may have traveled to eastern Polynesia and encountered (and intermarried with) Polynesians who in turn traveled further east.

The Status of Women in the Mongolian Empire

Mongolian women enjoyed relatively high social status during the reigns of Genghis through Kublai Khan, at least compared to other societies at the time. Women had the right to own and inherit property, and organized and ran the nomad camp while men were away -- Mongolian women, in other words, were expected to be capable administrators.

Mapping Part of the Wall of China Gives Insights into Its Purpose

The Northern Line of the Great Wall of China has recently been mapped using drones and high-resolution satellite images. The 460-mile-long Northern Line mostly winds through Mongolia, and was constructed of pounded earth between the 1000s and 1200s CE. The Northern Line was previously thought to have been constructed to prevent incursions by nomadic tribes such as those eventually united under Genghis Khan. But the team found that much of this section of the more than 13,000-mile-long Great Wall is low in height and placed near paths. In other words, it does not match what you would expect for a wall intended to prevent enemy invasion. It looks more like a wall intended to monitor the movement of livestock and people -- and potentially tax it.

The English word “bank” comes from the Italian word “banco.” In late medieval Italy banks were family businesses consisting of a single large room with a counter, or “banco,” in the middle to separate customers from clerks and bookkeepers.

Who Were The Children In The Children's Crusade?

You may have previously heard of the Children's Crusade, which happened in 1212. And was a total failure. When the Vatican sought recruits to fight Muslim Spain and the Cathars in spring 1212, an unexpected group of volunteers came forward, who were neither mercenaries nor local warriors. The chroniclers at the time called them “pueri.”

In 1977, the Dutch historian Peter Raedts argued that the Latin word "pueri" did not specifically mean children, but anyone who was socially "small." So "pueri" could be peasants who belonged to the lowest tiers of society. Several sources specifically mention that adult men and women, as well as elderly people, were active in the events of 1212.

Another potential re-definition of the term "pueri" was that it may have generally referred to male adolescents under 15 years old, which at the time was the earliest legal age they could marry. If this was the definition, teenagers were therefore counted as part of the children's crusade. But the word "infantes" -- which specifically means children -- also appeared in the sources describing the actual participants of the Children's Crusade. Which suggests the more limited pueri definition is right.

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    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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