City of Sacrifice: The Aztec Empire and the Role of Violence in Civilization

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 1999-12-01
  • Publisher: Random House Inc
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At an excavation of the Great Aztec Temple in Mexico City, amid carvings of skulls and a dismembered warrior goddess, David Carrasco stood before a container filled with the decorated bones of infants and children. It was the site of a massive human sacrifice, and for Carrasco the center of fiercely provocative questions: If ritual violence against humans was a profound necessity for the Aztecs in their capital city, is it central to the construction of social order and the authority of city states? Is civilization built on violence? In City of Sacrifice, Carrasco chronicles the fascinating story of Tenochtitlan, the Aztec capital, investigating Aztec religious practices and demonstrating that religious violence was integral to urbanization; the city itself was a temple to the gods. That Mexico City, the largest city on earth, was built on the ruins of Tenochtitlan, is a point Carrasco poignantly considers in his comparison of urban life from antiquity to modernity. Majestic in scope, City of Sacrifice illuminates not only the rich history of a major Meso american city but also the inseparability of two passionate human impulses: urbanization and religious engagement. It has much to tell us about many familiar events in our own time, from suicide bombings in Tel Aviv to rape and murder in the Balkans.

Table of Contents

Introduction Performing the City of Sacrifice 1(14)
City as Symbol in Aztec Thought: Some Clues from the Codex Mendoza
Templo Mayor: The Aztec Vision of Place
The New Fire Ceremony and the Binding of the Years: Tenochtitlan's Fearful Symmetry
The Sacrifice of Tezcatlipoca: To Change Place
Give Me Some Skin: The Charisma of the Aztec Warrior
Cosmic Jaws: We Eat the Gods and the Gods Eat Us
The Sacrifice of Women: The Hearts of Plants and Makers of War Games
When Warriors Became Walls, When the Mountain of Water Crumbled
Notes 223(49)
Acknowledgments 272(2)
Index 274

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