Re: Anthropophagy

Gerold Firl (
4 Jan 1995 12:43:13 -0800

In article <3d8h4q$> (allen lutins) writes:
>In article <>,
>Gerold Firl <> wrote:
>>What percentage of the animal protein consumed by aztecs came from humans?

>...arguments such as these (this man's obviously studied his Marvin
>Harris) fail to consider something: there are over 500 million
>vegetarians in India today, and they are *not* dying off for lack of
> is *not* that difficult for the human body to synthesize
>protein from amino acids if the proper foods are eaten in the proper
>combinations...these combinations (present in maize/beans/squash, for
>example) were certainly available to the Aztecs...and there was
>certainly supplementary meat around (peccary, deer, rabbit, etc.)...

Quite right. It is certainly possible for humans to live, very healthily,
on a vegetarian diet. Human flesh was not a *necessity*, from a nutritional
point of view, for the aztecs. But necessity is not the only mother of
invention. Aztec culture was very "successful" at dominating their
neighbors, and the aggressive ideology of conquest in the name of the sun
was a key component legitimising such action. Anthropophagy dovetails very
neatly with such an ideology, as the conquerers absorb the mana of their
inferiors through the combined physical/spiritual process of cannibalism.

I haven't actually read Harris' comments on cannibalism; I believe it was
McNeil, in _plagues and peoples_, who stated that tenochtitlan butcher
shops had rack of indian for sale. Can anyone provide a hard reference on
the question of whether or not human protein was a significant component of
the aztec diet?

Disclaimer claims dat de claims claimed in dis are de claims of meself,
me, and me alone, so sue us god. I won't tell Bill & Dave if you won't.
=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=-=---- Gerold Firl @ ..hplabs!hp-sdd!geroldf