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The Spring 2011 issue of The Earth Scientist is focused on modernizing seismology education. Thanks to IRIS, you can download this issue for free as a pdf. Print copies are available in our online store.
Sketch based on a drawing from the Florentine Codex, a sixteenth-century colonial manuscript compiled by Fray Bernardino de Sahagun.
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Huitzilopochtli

Huitzilopochtli was the patron deity in Aztec mythology. The Aztecs were an ancient civilization living in Mexico when the Spaniards arrived in 1519 to conquer Central America. Huitzilopochtli, whose name means "Blue Hummingbird on the Left", was the Aztec god of the Sun and the war. Huitzilopochtli was depicted as a blue man fully armed and with his head decorated with hummingbird feathers.

His mother Coatlicue was magically impregnated when a ball of feathers fell into the temple where she was sweeping and came into contact with her breast. This mysterious pregnancy greatly distressed her existing four hundred star children who thought she had disgraced them. One sister of Huitzilopochtli, Coyolxauhqui, instigated her star sisters and brothers to kill their mother, Coatlicue.

However, Huitzilopochtli sprang out of his mother as an adult fully armed and slew Coyolxauhqui and his other star brothers and sisters. Thus, Huitzilopochtli cut off Coyolxauhqui's head and threw it in the sky to become the Moon. Huitzilopochtli was the god who was supposed to guide Aztecs towards a promised land in the South. He incited Aztec people to fight without mercy, to form an empire, and to gather prisoners to sacrifice to the gods.

Aztecs used to offer frequent and numerous human sacrifices to their gods in order to secure rain, harvests and success in war. The victims were usually prisoners captured in the frequent wars that Aztecs were fighting against their neighbors. The most common form of sacrifice was to tear out the heart of a living adult or child and offer it to the Sun.

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