[Ed. – Happy Indigenous Peoples Day.]
Excavations at the site of one of the Spanish conquistadors’ worst defeats in Mexico are yielding new evidence about what happened when the two cultures clashed — and a native people, at least temporarily, was in control.
Faced with strange invaders accompanied by unknown animal species, the inhabitants of an Aztec-allied town just east of Mexico City reacted with apparent amazement when they captured a convoy of about 15 Spaniards, 45 foot soldiers who included Cubans of African and Indian descent, women and 350 Indian allies of the Spaniards, including Mayas and other groups.
According to artifacts found at the Zultepec-Tecoaque ruin site, the inhabitants of the town known as Texcocanos or Acolhuas carved clay figurines of the unfamiliar races with their strange features, or forced the captives to carve them. They then symbolically “decapitated” the figurines.
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