Institute of Archaeology


Elizabeth Baquedano interviewed on the fall of the Aztec Empire

2 September 2021

Elizabeth Baquedano (Honorary Associate Professor, UCL Institute of Archaeology) was interviewed recently for an article in The Independent about the fall of the Aztec Empire.

Aztec site (Image: Elizabeth Baquedano)

In the article by David Keys, which considers how historians and archaeologists are revealing the real story of Spain's conquests of the Aztecs, Elizabeth outlined how the fall of the Aztec Empire was the first major European military conquest in North, Central or South America. Having seized the Aztec Empire - melting gold treasures down and shipping gold ingots back home - Spain then set about obliterating the Aztec capital’s major public buildings and the Aztecs’ religion.

According to Elizabeth:

The Spanish seizure of Mexico in August 1521 was one of human history’s most violent acts".

It paved the way for the eventual Spanish and other European seizures of most of the New World from its indigenous inhabitants. According to David Keys, in a sense, August 1521 marked the beginning of large-scale Western imperialism.

Elizabeth currently teaches a graduate course at the Institute on Aztec Archaeology which examines the critical boundaries between the historical records, the painted books (codices) and material culture, focusing on the Spanish Chroniclers of Sixteenth Century Mexico. She is the author of Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and Supreme Deity, 2015 (University Press of Colorado).

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