Monday, August 17, 2009

Blinded by Obsidian - Aztecs

clipped from
One question that torments
historians of technology is the "Why didn't?"

So: why didn't the Aztecs ever emerge from the
stone age? Why did such a remarkably advanced
people make such limited use of metal?
Anthropologist Terry Stocker offers a troubling
answer. When you already have a fine technology,
you don't see beyond it. And the Aztecs had
obsidian for their axes and knives.

Obsidian is a naturally-occurring glass, usually
black and opaque. It's harder than steel, and it
fractures smoothly. By splitting it, you can create
murderously sharp blades.
Mexico was richly endowed with obsidian.
Anthropologists now think the huge and mysterious
pre-Aztec city of Teotihuacan, near Mexico City,
was the center of an obsidian industry.

So obsidian became woven into Aztec worship as well
as Aztec function. What need could there be for a
replacement material? The Aztecs didn't develop
their use of metal because they couldn't see beyond
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1 comment:

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