At Home with the Aztecs

An Archaeologist Uncovers Their Daily Life

"At Home with the Aztecs" provides a fresh view of Aztec society, focusing on households and communities instead of kings, pyramids and human sacrifice. This new approach offers an opportunity to humanize the Aztecs, moving past the popular stereotype of sacrificial maniacs to demonstrate that these were successful and prosperous communities. Smith also engagingly describes the scientific, logistic and personal dimensions of archaeological fieldwork, drawing on decades of excavating experience and considering how his research was affected by his interaction with contemporary Mexican communities. Through first-hand accounts of the ways archaeologists interpret sites and artifacts, the book illuminates how the archaeological process can provide information about ancient families. Facilitating a richer understanding of the Aztec world, Smith’s research also redefines success, prosperity and resilience in ancient societies, making this book suitable not only for those interested in the Aztecs but in the examination of complex societies in general.

Winner of the Society of American Archaeology's 2017 Popular Book Award.


Michael E. Smith, a professor in the School of Human Evolution and Social Change, is an archaeologist with two research themes: the Aztecs, Teotihuacan, and other societies in ancient central Mexico, and comparative urbanism. He has directed fieldwork projects at numerous sites in the provinces of the Aztec empire in central Mexico.

Praise for this book

Resisting the trappings of "monumental archaeology" — a fixation on kings, priests, pyramids and bloody ceremonies that has for so long dominated scholarly discourse — Michael E. Smith instead focuses on the life of the "ordinary" Aztec, diving into trash heaps and exploring households in order to investigate the humble communities that actually made up the largest part of Aztec society ... Through his remarkably engaging narrative, Smith often weaves personal anecdotes and methodological insights, drawing the reader into the hot Mexican dirt right alongside him.

Current World Archaeology
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