A unique documentary nt. Aztec tested in Poland

A unique document nt. Aztecs studied in Poland

A unique fragment of an Aztec census from an area of present-day Mexico that was taken 500 years ago will be examined by a team led by Dr. Julia Madajczak. The document was discovered a dozen years ago in. Jagiellonian Library of the Jagiellonian University in Krakow, Poland.

– The fact that the roster made it to Krakow is due only to an amazing coincidence, Dr. Julia Madajczak tells PAP.

Indeed, already on the story itself "wanderówki" of this written monument could be made into an adventure movie.

It all began in 1519-1524 with the conquest of the vast Aztec empire by Spanish conquistador Fernando Cortez, whoóre occupied a large part of Mesoamerica.

– Cortez exercised power over the conquered territories for many years. However, his power was feared by the crown of Spain, so the conquistador was gradually removed from sovereignty – mówi Dr. Madajczak.

Spaniards had fixed, developed procedures for conquered territoriesów. After the subjugation of the local population by the conquistadorów standard was the appointment of so-called “tributes”. viceóla and other European officialsów, whichóhe people with him have had the support ofógovern newly acquired lands.

– Meanwhile, Cortez did not like it, and began to lecture theóto claim their rightful lands and power. It was probably then that the document I am researching, the census, was created,” says the ethnohistorian.

The census relates to a huge land estate, the Marquesado del Valle, which Cortez received for his services from the Spanish króla. – This was not just any grant – the area of the estate occupied the area of an average European country! – adds the researcher. Today, these lands are part of the Mexican state ofóin Oaxaca, Morelos, Veracruz, Michoacán and Mexico.

Madajczak speculates that the census was commissioned by Cortez himself, whoóry wanted to know what resources he had and what tribute was due to him.

The researcher makes no secret of the fact that the document she researched is not one of the enthralling ones for the average viewer, of whichóryme you can talk to "Over wine with friends". She points out, however, that it is possible to glean from it mnóstwo valuable information about the Azteców and their culture shortly after the arrival of the Europeanów.

Although the three-year project, funded by the National Science Center (which will result in a translation of the document into Polish and English), is just beginning, the researcher points to some preliminary findings. The census consists of continuous text (it is not a form of table) written in the Latin alphabet, but in the local Aztec languageów – nahuatl. It was not until the Europeans introduced the knowledge of such a bequest in the New World.

– The writers were probably local residents trained in the art of writing and reading by European clerics, the researcher believes. He points out that the census was done in a very careful mannerób – this is how the Indians wrote, while the writings of clerics and Spanish officialsów is sometimes even unreadable.

The census was divided by village – the average village in the area at the time numbered approx. 200-250 osób. Next is information about the most important person in the village, followed by the characteristics of the variousólnych households and the number of their inhabitantsów and kinship.

It is also known who is the master or – which happened less often – the mistress of the house. In the case of each of the domów was recorded róAlso, what tributes the rulers were obliged to pay.

– While reading the text, I discovered a new type of tax – oprócz dwóch already known to us tributeów, there was another one enigmatically described as "towel" – tells ethnohistorian.

At "towel" consisted of fetuses in the form of m.in. eggs, corn and cocoa. Each of the tributesów was earmarked for another purpose – one of them móhead to maintain Cortez’s lavish residence, another for the army, and another was used for maintenance and construction of the dróg or channelów. The researcher spróbies to determine to whom all the tributes described in the document were to go.

Document, whichór, the contents of which can be cfówn to an after all not very exciting phone book, however, brings interesting information on customs óearly Aztecsów.

– It happens that landlords had several wives, or – as we assume – concubines, które listed in the census as "serving with child" – tells.

The census also noted whether residents were baptized. It turns out that in many cases this is a fact only for children. – Meanwhile, the missionaries argued in texts from that timeów that they Christianized the entire population of the former Aztec stateów,” the researcher adds. Interestingly, it was completely accepted by the Christian clergy common – co róis also evident in the census – slavery.

Someóre of the households were exempt from any tributeów – these belonged either to local noblesów, któwhose job was to control the peasantów, or to wdów. Spanish conquistadors were also unfamiliar with heart reflexes.

– The exemption from paying the tax can be porówn to give alms to a beggar, which was well regarded among theód óearly Christians. Cortez himself was a person of great faith and preoccupation with the question of eternal life, Madajczak says. Conquistador, after conquering more towns, removed statues from pagan temples and replaced their images with likenesses of the Virgin Mary.

– He did so just after entering the next village, heedless of the threat from angry residentsóThe Spanish conquistadors were also familiar with heart reflexes, and often had to flee. Such an attitude undeniably shows that he was a person steeped in faith and was willing toów for it even to die,” he adds.

Scientists don’t know anything about the fate of the census until the 19th century, when part of it – the very ones whoseóra eventually found its way to Krakow – it was repurchased by a German merchant from the hands of an antiquities trader in Mexico. The merchant gave it to the Prussian ruler, whoóry handed it over in turn to the collectiveóin Króle Library in Berlin (the present State Library).

In the early 20th century. Walter Lehmann worked on deciphering the text, but his achievements were never published. Then came the conflagration of World War II. The census was found among theód documentóin evacuated to the underground of the Książ castle, and póThen the abbey in Krzeszów in Silesia.

After the discovery of the cache, in whichóThere are many other valuable documentsów, the exotic document found there ended up in the Jagiellonian Library in Krakow. It was only thanks to Brigida von Mentz’s research in 2003 that the. The world has learned that such an unusual monument is located in Poland. Other pieces of the inventory are in collections in Mexico and Paris, but the one from the UJ is the most extensive.