Re: Large cities at time of contact Re: diseases and immunity

Philip Deitiker (
Tue, 02 Jul 1996 14:34:56 GMT wrote:

>Philip Deitiker wrote:

>>> Glass was an introduction by the Spanish.

>> Not exactly, glass was introduced by natural processes, the volcanic
>> glass was process by chipping to produce the glass knives present
>> before the spanish arrived, the quality of the knives was quite high.

>I'm sorry if it was not clear that I was refering to manufactured glass. My
>assumption was that you were referring to manufactured glass, which was a popular
>import from Spain.

>To suggest identifying the Aztec technology for the use of volcanic glass seems

>First,the use of volcanic glass is not usually distinguished from the use of any
>other stone. It is not the material which defines technology, but the process of
>manufacturing tools. The process of knapping volcanic glass is the same as that
>used on silicates.

Why do you say this (gee , do i really want to get in this argument).
The quality of the aztec glass knives was quite superb. From what I
here, were quite durable seeing that they were used in great numbers
of ritual sacrifices. There was an industry in mexico for mining and
chiping these knives to workable form (meaning division of labor for a
specific task). As far as glass knives are concerned, they are still
being used in the feild of tissue preparation for electron microscopy
since they produce a much sharper edge and maintain the edge longer
than metal and I would consider them a 'high tech' thing, than high
tech production of knife is little different from what aztecs did. So
although they are less maliable than metal the quality of the edge
must also be taken into consideration. I might add the quality is no
different in manufactored glass than in natural glass once one begins
to chip the glass (except for tempered glass which can't reliable be
chipped). BTW glass is not a stone, it is an amorphous homogenouous
solid with properties comparable to plastic at very low temperatures.

>Second, it seems highly unlikely that volcanic glass played a major role in Aztec
>technology. Volcanic glass makes a highly unreliable blade. It is not as hard nor
>as isotropic as other alternatives. It is also quite brittle. Besides, wasn't
>flint and jade more commonly used?

Of course it wasn't common, but it is representative of their quest
for more refined technologies. I think you might say it was a pinnacle
of their technologies, used principally by the top guys.