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Europeans may not have been deadly as thought to Aztecs
San Antonio Express- News/Houston Chronicle ^ | 10/15/2006 | Marion Lloyd

Posted on 10/15/2006 7:13:00 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch

MEXICO CITY — Here's what history tells us about the Spanish conquest of this country: Armed with modern weapons and old world diseases, several hundred Spanish soldiers toppled the Aztec empire in 1521. And by the end of the century, the invaders' guns, steel and germs had wiped out 90 percent of the natives.

It's a key piece of the "Black Legend," the tales of atrocities committed by the Spanish Inquisition and colonizers of the New World.

But it may be just that — legend, according to Rodolfo Acuña-Soto, a Harvard-trained epidemiologist.

He argues that an unknown indigenous hemorrhagic fever may have killed off the bulk of Mexico's native population, which plummeted from an estimated 22 million in 1519, when the Spaniards arrived, to 2 million in 1600.

And he warns that the fever — which the Aztecs called "cocoliztli" in their native Nahuatl language — still may be lurking in remote rural areas of Mexico.

Not everyone buys the new theory. But Acuña-Soto, who spent 12 years of poring over colonial archives, census data, graveyard records and autopsy reports, is convinced many historians are wrong about what killed the Aztecs.

"The problem with history is that it's very ideological," he said. "In this case, it was a beautiful way of accusing the Spaniards of unimaginable cruelties and of decimating the population of Mexico."

Spanish colonizers were far from blameless, he quickly points out. By forcing the Indians into slave-like conditions and malnutrition, they made them more vulnerable to the disease, he said.

"Of course, there's a terrible story of cruelty and disease that killed a huge amount of indigenous people," he said. "But we don't know what this disease was."

Acuña-Soto, who has published his findings in several international scholarly journals, is a research professor at Mexico's National Autonomous University.

Three major epidemics comprised what he calls the "megadeath."

Most scholars agree that the first bout, from 1519-1521, was caused by smallpox brought over by the Spaniards and to which the natives had no resistance. The disease, which is characterized by high fevers and pustules on the skin, may have killed as many as 8 million Indians in Mexico.

But Acuña-Soto claims another two epidemics in 1545 and 1576 were caused by an even more gruesome and lethal disease. The first epidemic killed between 7 million and 17 million people, and the second wiped out another 2 million — half the remaining population, he said.

His arguments largely are based on a first-person account by Francisco Hernandez, the personal physician of King Phillip II of Spain, who witnessed the 1576 epidemic. The symptoms he described did not sound to Acuña-Soto like any of the usual suspects — smallpox, measles or typhus.

"Blood flowed from the ears, and in many cases blood truly gushed from the nose," the royal doctor wrote in Latin to a friend. "The fevers were contagious, burning and continuous, all of them pestilential, in most part lethal."

"The tongue was dry and black," he went on in clinical detail. "Urine of the colors of sea-green, vegetal green and black."

The text, which disappeared for centuries before turning up in 1954, has only recently been cited by scholars. And differences among translations have fueled the historic debate.

If cocoliztli had been a hemorrhagic fever, Acuña-Soto reasons, the Spaniards couldn't have brought it with them. Hemorrhagic diseases — which include such terrifying killers as Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa — don't readily pass from one person to another.

Not everyone is convinced.

"The disease came from animals that didn't exist in the Americas," said Elsa Malvido, a Mexican colonial historian who has spent 40 years tracing the origins of the diseases that decimated the Aztecs. She argues that the later epidemics were caused by bubonic plague carried from Europe to Mexico by black rats stowed aboard Spanish galleons.

She cites indigenous codices that describe a plague of rats preceding the epidemics.

However, Malvido acknowledged: "As long as I don't have a skeleton to extract DNA, of course, these are all hypotheses."

Acuña-Soto counters that the disease doesn't fit the pattern of bubonic plague, which he said tends to spread inland from coastal areas and kills a minority of those infected. In contrast, he said, cocoliztli originated in central Mexico City and had the most devastating impact in the highlands.

The later epidemics coincided with two major droughts, which may have magnified the human impact of the disease, he said.


TOPICS: Culture/Society; Foreign Affairs; Mexico; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: aliens; aztecs; cocoliztli; godsgravesglyphs; hemorrhagicfever; history; illegalimmigration; immigrantlist; mexico
"....he warns that the fever — which the Aztecs called "cocoliztli" in their native Nahuatl language — still may be lurking in remote rural areas of Mexico."
1 posted on 10/15/2006 7:13:02 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch
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To: SwinneySwitch
Hemorrhagic diseases — which include such terrifying killers as Ebola, Marburg, and Lassa — don't readily pass from one person to another.

Indeed. Very hard to spread these diseases. You practically have to wallow in the other person's blood, ripping their beating heart out of their chest and perhaps ritually eating body parts.

What are the chances the Aztecs did stuff like that??

2 posted on 10/15/2006 7:16:30 AM PDT by ClearCase_guy (The broken wall, the burning roof and tower. And Agamemnon dead.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Either way the Aztecs are gone, which is a good thing.


3 posted on 10/15/2006 7:19:55 AM PDT by Seruzawa (If you agree with the French raise your hand - If you are French raise both hands.)
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To: SwinneySwitch
Sounds awesome! I sure hope I can get my hands on some of that sweet, sweet hemoragic fever. Maybe I ought to start hanging out in the parking lot of the Home Depot. Or send my kids to public school...

Owl_Eagle

If what I just wrote made you sad or angry,
it was probably just a joke.

4 posted on 10/15/2006 7:20:11 AM PDT by South Hawthorne (In Memory of my Dear Friend Henry Lee II)
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To: ClearCase_guy

I think I am one of the few people who can understand your wit.


5 posted on 10/15/2006 7:22:07 AM PDT by KC_Conspirator
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To: SwinneySwitch
Link
6 posted on 10/15/2006 7:23:59 AM PDT by Michael Goldsberry (Lt. Bruce C. Fryar USN 01-02-70 Laos)
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To: SwinneySwitch
I'm sure the Aztecs have mass graves from their own victims of cannibalism. Getting a before plague and after plague samplings will help.

I wonder if ships made a trip from Africa to South America which might explain the filovirus like symptoms.




This might be an earlier/original strain? that was more resistant than the present ebola strains. Would be interesting to examine the actual everyday living conditions that would allow a virus to jump from victim to victim as if it did exist in Mexico. Otherwise, a bacterial infection seems more likely.

Could vampire bats have spread a filovirus throughout a very agrarian population?


7 posted on 10/15/2006 7:26:51 AM PDT by SaltyJoe (A mother's sorrowful heart and personal sacrifice redeems her lost child's soul.)
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To: ClearCase_guy
What are the chances the Aztecs did stuff like that??

The purity of indiginous people would preclude such a thing.

8 posted on 10/15/2006 7:27:31 AM PDT by Socratic ( "Better to be Socrates dissatisfied than a fool satisfied" - J.S. Mill)
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To: SwinneySwitch; ClearCase_guy
Historical Review: Megadrought And Megadeath In 16th Century Mexico

"The epidemic of cocoliztli from1545 to 1548 killed an estimated 5 million to 15 million people, or up to 80% of the native population of Mexico (Figure 1). In absolute and relative terms the 1545 epidemic was one of the worst demographic catastrophes in human history, approaching even the Black Death of bubonic plague, which killed approximately 25 million in western Europe from 1347 to 1351 or about 50% of the regional population."

"The cocoliztli epidemic from 1576 to 1578 cocoliztli epidemic killed an additional 2 to 2.5 million people, or about 50% of the remaining native population."

9 posted on 10/15/2006 7:29:05 AM PDT by blam
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To: All

Maybe it was an unusually deadly form of something like Dengue Fever?


10 posted on 10/15/2006 7:31:00 AM PDT by Oklahoma
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To: hispanarepublicana; radar101; RamingtonStall; engrpat; HamiltonFan; Draco; TexasCajun; ...

Cocoliztli Ping!


11 posted on 10/15/2006 7:33:02 AM PDT by SwinneySwitch (Terroristas-beyond your expectations!!)
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To: ClearCase_guy

LOL!


12 posted on 10/15/2006 7:33:25 AM PDT by BenLurkin ("The entire remedy is with the people." - W. H. Harrison)
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To: Seruzawa
They were not nice people.
13 posted on 10/15/2006 7:34:05 AM PDT by BenLurkin ("The entire remedy is with the people." - W. H. Harrison)
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To: SwinneySwitch
And the Native Americans gave the world tobacco and syphilis..which has killed orders of magnitude more people...
14 posted on 10/15/2006 7:38:18 AM PDT by 2banana (My common ground with terrorists - they want to die for islam and we want to kill them)
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To: SwinneySwitch
If the politicians have their way, the fever may soon be lurking all over the United States.

NAFTA - North American Fever Transmission Act

15 posted on 10/15/2006 7:42:25 AM PDT by Enterprise (Let's not enforce laws that are already on the books, let's just write new laws we won't enforce.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

I am a historian who hasn't bought the PC "we killed the native peoples" whine in quite a long time.

Considering that the "native peoples" waged ongoing war with other native tribes, enslaved them and practiced cannibalism and horrifying religious rituals, I'm surprised the Euros agreed to stay.

The Southwestern Annasazi, it has been specualted, were wiped out by a disease that afflicts those who eat human flesh.


16 posted on 10/15/2006 7:51:43 AM PDT by 13Sisters76 ("It is amazing how many people mistake a certain hip snideness for sophistication. " Thos. Sowell)
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To: Owl_Eagle
Any chance we can get it to the traitor RAT's for consumption?
17 posted on 10/15/2006 7:54:57 AM PDT by olinr
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To: 13Sisters76

I am an historian, too, and of partly Indian ancestry. There has never been a day in my life when I yearned for the life of my Indian ancestors. I never wintered in a warm house with central heat secretly harboring a sentimental desire to be in a tee pee, instead, with the blizzard whipping at its flimsy walls. I have seen buffalo covered in snow with icicles hanging from their fur. There but for the grace of God, go I.


18 posted on 10/15/2006 8:12:29 AM PDT by ClaireSolt (Have you have gotten mixed up in a mish-masher?)
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To: 13Sisters76
Could it be the Spanish brought a 'tipping point" to an already volatile situation, and thus began the spread chaos though an already crumbling society?
19 posted on 10/15/2006 9:16:36 AM PDT by ASOC (The phrase "What if" or "If only" are for children.)
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To: SwinneySwitch

"It's a key piece of the "Black Legend," the tales of atrocities committed by the Spanish Inquisition and colonizers of the New World."

Interesting take on "legend." Wasn't this, like the Columbus "legend," created in the mid-1960s? No wonder our elite colleges are failing simple civics & history tests.


20 posted on 10/15/2006 9:17:20 AM PDT by Mach9 (.)
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To: Seruzawa

Either way the Aztecs are gone, which is a good thing.


That's a pretty blanket statement, don't you think?


21 posted on 10/15/2006 9:37:26 AM PDT by wolfcreek (A personal attack is the reaction of an exhausted and/or disturbed mind.)
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To: Mach9
Interesting take on "legend." Wasn't this, like the Columbus "legend," created in the mid-1960s? No wonder our elite colleges are failing simple civics & history tests.

I don't understand why the smallpox theory is so comforting to indians? It's pretty politically neutral. It was a disaster waiting to happen as soon as the indians encountered europeans with the hideous disease. Absent complete lack of contact between the old and new worlds, smallpox was eventually going to happen to the new world.

22 posted on 10/15/2006 9:45:19 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: ModelBreaker

I believe there is a contention that the Spaniards deliberately spread small pox on several occasions. I think that's why it's comforting to them.


23 posted on 10/15/2006 9:50:32 AM PDT by Clara Lou (Proud mom of a USMC enlistee.)
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To: 13Sisters76

The Anasazi destroyed their environment. Read up on Chaco Canyon, it's very interesting. I'm not saying that the natives weren't prone to cannibalism, but it is pretty much accepted as fact that this particular population destroyed the world around them, then disbanded or starved like so many civilizations before them.


24 posted on 10/15/2006 9:57:25 AM PDT by The Black Knight (The Tengu Demon with a heart)
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To: SwinneySwitch
But it may be just that — legend, according to Rodolfo Acuña-Soto,
a Harvard-trained epidemiologist.


Well, there goes his invitation to indigenous-peoples rallys.
25 posted on 10/15/2006 10:04:51 AM PDT by VOA
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To: Mach9
Interesting take on "legend." Wasn't this, like the Columbus "legend," created in the mid-1960s? No wonder our elite colleges are failing simple civics & history tests.

It goes back to the Reformation, with Protestant cheerleaders exaggerating sins by Catholics, and ignoring their own. This is especially true with stories about the Inquisition.

26 posted on 10/15/2006 10:19:56 AM PDT by Vince Ferrer
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To: Owl_Eagle

Nah -- just go down to Kennett Square and tour a mushroom farm or two...


27 posted on 10/15/2006 10:32:14 AM PDT by Malacoda (A day without a pi$$ed-off muslim is like a day without sunshine.)
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To: Clara Lou
I believe there is a contention that the Spaniards deliberately spread small pox on several occasions. I think that's why it's comforting to them.

I know of the Ward Churchill allegations. But even if true, smallpox was perfectly capable of wiping out entire populations all on its own--of all diseases, it doesn't need any help. It was only a question of when. Not whether.

28 posted on 10/15/2006 11:19:33 AM PDT by ModelBreaker
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To: wolfcreek

What was I thinking? Of course we need to keep cultures around that engage in human sacrfice and keep slaves. All cultures are equally valid.


29 posted on 10/15/2006 12:30:14 PM PDT by Seruzawa (If you agree with the French raise your hand - If you are French raise both hands.)
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To: ClaireSolt

(laughing) I loved this post. If the environmentalists have THEIR way, we will ALL be living in teepees..those of us who are left, that is...


30 posted on 10/15/2006 5:50:46 PM PDT by 13Sisters76 ("It is amazing how many people mistake a certain hip snideness for sophistication. " Thos. Sowell)
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To: ClearCase_guy
What are the chances the Aztecs did stuff like that??

Good one.

31 posted on 10/15/2006 5:56:12 PM PDT by hinckley buzzard
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To: Seruzawa

All cultures are equally valid.


You, with a military background, should know that there are good people in every culture. (even in Nam) I've read other posts from you suggesting certain *Native* groups of people seemingly don't have the right to exist. Using that pretext, maybe the human race should be wiped out?


I'm not trying to dog you but, some of your post are rather disturbing.


32 posted on 10/16/2006 4:08:43 AM PDT by wolfcreek (A personal attack is the reaction of an exhausted and/or disturbed mind.)
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To: 13Sisters76
.


13Sisters76,


If the environmentalists have THEIR way, we will ALL be living in teepees..those of us who are left, that is...


Point of Correction:


You, your children, grandchildren and entire neighborhood WOULD BE living in Tepees ...


While the (essential and sensitive) elite-Environmentalists would still be living in their Washington DC comfortable Brownstone houses, typing away on their computer laptops, still working hard to save Hummanity from America's (last few remaining) evils ...


Patton-at-Bastogne

"May God and His Angels Guard Your Sacred Throne, and May You Long Become It."
Shakespeare, Henry V, Act I, Scene II


.
33 posted on 10/16/2006 5:27:49 AM PDT by Patton@Bastogne
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To: wolfcreek

All cultures couldn't possibly be equally "valid," or they'd all still be around. But that certainly doesn't mean that their adherents, their members, aren't "valid" or precious, or worth saving from their ignorance. I'd think that military types, in particular, would be accutely aware of the need for the dominance of the cultures they defend. If they're not fighting for the preservation of their respective cultures, what's their motivation? Jingoism does have its place.


34 posted on 10/16/2006 6:52:25 PM PDT by Mach9 (.)
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 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Note: this topic is from 10/15/2006.

Blast from the Past.

Just adding to the catalog, not sending a general distribution.

Thanks SwinneySwitch.

To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


35 posted on 11/03/2012 11:30:53 AM PDT by SunkenCiv (https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
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To: SwinneySwitch

Hantavirus.


36 posted on 11/04/2012 11:01:39 AM PST by ThanhPhero (Khach hanh huong den La Vang)
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