This section is the place to find material on life in Mexico before the Conquest. This historical period is the most affected by the destruction of records, objects, and people by the Spaniards. One must also be aware of the controversy and current political pressures influencing the discussion of the past, particularly in the light of modern, independent Mexico’s struggle to create its own post-colonial identity. For example, there have been documented tendencies to try to present the Aztecs as proto-monotheists (Miguel Leon-Portilla, among others, is notorious for this), or to revise history and claim that they never actually engaged in human sacrifice. As I continue to expand this section, I will try to add links to useful discussions about these particular points of caution.
Index of Pre-Twentieth Century Works
Index of Current Works
Jacques Soustelle’s famous 1962 book on life in Tenochtitlan before the Conquest. It’s a slightly dated but still useful general history and ethnography of the Mexica-Tenochca. It covers a wide range of subjects including architecture, agriculture, religion, warfare, and society. This is the English translation of the book and the full text is available online through Questia. Recommended.