Wednesday, November 16, 2016

What killed the Aztecs? An alternative proposal

Image result for smallpox native americans
In an interesting perspective on the collapse of the population of indigenous populations of Mexico, is implicated through Rodolfo Acuna-Soto’s epidemiological historical study of the pandemics of colonization and post-colonization. It is estimated that 5-8 million mortalities happened between 1519 and 1520, and 7-17 million mortalities between 1545 and 1576. The second wave of deaths, which took place 25-50 years after the arrival of the Spanish, and were described by a Franciscan friar to have the impact of, “Nobody [having] the health or strength to help the diseased or bury the dead.” They called this series of events as cocolizli, or Nahuatl for ‘pest.’ When the cocolizli epidemic came around it is estimated to have killed 2-2.5 million people, or around 50% of the remaining native populations. Due to harsh treatments of the encomienda system, virtual slavery, this could have left indigenous peoples particularly vulnerable.

Through epidemiologic research, Acuna-Soto claims that the events of 1545-76, which have high death rates, as due to indigenous hemorrhagic fevers. One of the physicians of 1576, Francisco Hernandez, described the symptoms as high fever, severe headache, vertigo, black tongue, dark urine, dysentery, severe abdominal and thoracic pain, and profuse bleeding from nose, eyes, and mouth. The diagnosed survival rate was about three to four days.

Supplementing the evidence with tee finding, Auncuna-Soto found his claims fortified though three-ring evidence that signified periods of rain and drought in which rat populations could also fluctuate.

- Gianna Nino-Tapias ('18)


No comments: