chapter  8
15 Pages

Lessons from the dirt

This book began with three mysteries. I was a young archaeologist directing my rst excavation project, and many of my ideas about what I might nd when we started digging were incorrect. This led to my initial puzzlement about bronze needles, agricultural terraces, and musical instruments. Why did I have such faulty expectations? One reason is that almost nothing was known about Aztec peasants at the time. Before my eldwork, this gap in our knowledge was lled in, by me and by other Aztec experts, with guesses about those peasants. We all thought these people must have been poor and isolated, dominated and exploited by greedy despotic kings. The results of several years of eldwork and lab analysis show that this picture was wrong in almost every way.