Institute of Archaeology


Cambria Rodriguez

The Life and Death of an Aztec “Chosen Child”: ritual, politics, and environment

Picture of Cambria Rodriguez looking straight at the camera

Email: cambria.rodriguez.19@ucl.ac.uk
Section: Archaeological Science



 The Life and Death of an Aztec “Chosen Child”: ritual, politics, and environment

Children of Aztec society were instrumental in communicating with the supernatural world, connecting to the environment, and providing subsistence to maintain the wellbeing of the population. My research project aims to analyse archaeological evidence of the ritual killing of children across the Aztec empire to piece together biological and residential patterns that expose the identity of the victims. In addition, my project will investigate the political and environmental pressures that provoked the offering of children and how their deaths resolved such issues. How Aztec children were chosen to be sacrificed, where they came from, and if there were sought-after characteristics for the selected has yet to be explored across all known Aztec archaeological sites.

The first objective of my research is to use social-anthropological sources to understand what children represented and contributed to Aztec Society, specifically those selected to be ritually killed. I will also identify who benefited from the blood spill of children by examining associated deities. The project will then answer using osteological and biomolecular analysis, who were the chosen children? Was there a specific profile used to select the victims? Are there patterns of age, sex, and residency? A child’s health not only reflects the health of the mother that cared for them, but social organization, culture, environmental conditions, and broader issues as well. The last objective of my project is to answer what political and environmental climates did chosen children live and die in and did those factors contribute to their death? I aim to investigate the residential patterning of child victims through molecular techniques and identify if their residency and time of death corresponds with areas of Aztec conquests. In addition to war, children were widely associated with agriculture and rebirth. I aim to identify major environmental pressures that coincided with child


  • AA, History, Cerritos College, 2015
  • AA, Global Politics and Diplomacy, Cerritos College, 2015
  • BA, History, California State University Dominguez Hills, 2018
  • GDip, Archaeology, UCL, 2020
  • MA, Archaeology, UCL, 2021

 Rodriguez, Cambria. “Bringing Wealth and Water to the City of Angels: Transforming Los Angeles’ Physical Landscape into an Anglo Vision 1908-1960” CSUDH Toro Historical Review. September 28, 2017.