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Old September 22nd, 2012, 03:42 PM   #1
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Historical Armies Illustrated - The Aztec Empire & Contemporaries


I thought it might be nice to start a new topic series (open to anyone who wishes to do the same) catering to mostly visual illustrations of particular warriors, soldiers & armies throughout history, particularly ones that may interest you. It helps to bring things to life, especially for those members largely unacquainted with particular civilizations, their armies and armaments used.

The following illustrations are largely centered on the Aztec Empire of the Triple Alliance but also, enemies, allies and contemporaries throughout Mesoamerica and the Yucatan peninsula. Predecessors are briefly portrayed as well.

TEOTIHUACAN & MAYA PERIOD

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Presumably a couple of warriors from the nobility.
Based on a couple rare mural depictions found in Teotihuacan. Accuracy suspect. Source: unknown. Illustrator: unknown.


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Maya ruler, warrior, peasant levy
Based on the Bonampak murals, a gold disc found on the Sacred Cenote in Chicen Itza and terracotta figurines from the island of Jaina. Source: Osprey Military Men-At-Arms series 101 "The Conquistadores" by Terence Wise. Illustrator: Angus McBride

AZTEC EMPIRE OF THE TRIPLE ALLIANCE

The Aztec Empire of the Triple Alliance consisted of three city-states, Tenochtitlan, Texcoco, Tlacopan comprising the Mexica, Acolhua and Tepanecs respectively. The Mexica being the dominant of the three and the faction principally referred to in popular literature as the "Aztecs". These are their armies:

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Cuextecatl soldier
Based on the codex mendoza showing the 2 captive warrior rank. All limb-encasing bodysuits were called tlahuiztli. This particular uniform being the most demanded by the Triple Alliance as tribute along with the jaguar style uniforms. They came in a variety of colors, the one portrayed being red. Source: Osprey Military Warrior series 32 "Aztec Warrior AD1325-1521" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Adam Hook

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Aztec weaponry & equipment
Source: Osprey Military Warrior series 32 "Aztec Warrior AD1325-1521" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Adam Hook

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Aztec eagle knight, jaguar knight, priest
Based on the codex mendoza and codex duran. The eagle warrior was part of a high-ranking society along with the jaguar knights who have long been viewed as equal. Nevertheless, some have been led to question if the eagle ranks were not at least somewhat more exclusive and prestigious based on their much greater scarcity. Many times emperors donned a resplendent eagle outfit. This jaguar warrior is clad in a natural/yellow tone version of the jaguar outfit. They were generally not made of actual jaguar skin, see below. The priest, still holding a freshly torn out heart, is technically based off of Mixtec priests in the codex nuttal but there was little difference in appearance except for small details and the fact that Aztec priests instead wore their hair much longer and tied in the back but in the same frightfully matted way. Source: Osprey Military Men-At-Arms series 101 "The Conquistadores" by Terence Wise. Illustrator: Angus McBride


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Aztec jaguar warrior, officer, soldier
Based on the codex Mendoza. Generally speaking jaguar outfits were not actually made out of jaguar but rather sturdy cotton which was further decorated with feathers and then designs. The jaguar outfit is for the four captive rank. They came in a variety of colors. The tlahuitzli was tied at the back. The officer featured wears a large back device indicating his high rank and serving to coordinate troops. Such outfits came in different colors as well. The soldier depicted is of the working class who were summoned for imperial operations. Aztec armies could field as many as 400,000 troops. Source: Osprey Military Men-At Arms series "Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Angus McBride



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Aztec cuachic, warrior-priest, warrior

Based on the codex mendoza. The highest ranking elite warriors called cuachiqueh (singular, cuachic) served as imperial shock troops likened to a "berserker" role and took on special tasks as well as battlefield assistance roles when needed. Over 6 captives and dozens of other heroic deeds were required for this rank. They apparently turned down captaincies in order to remain constant battlefield combatants. He dons a short mohawk hairstyle and wears a yellow tlahuitzli. The warrior-priest is based off of the 4 captive warrior rank and is the equivalent of the jaguar warrior but of the novice priest caste. The more plainly clad warrior figure represents a one captive rank. He wears an ichcahuipilli cotton armor vest and swings the preferred Aztec weapon, the machuahuitl. Source: Osprey Military Men-At Arms series "Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Angus McBride


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Aztec Vizier (Cihuacoatl), Aztec Emperor (Huey Tlatoani), pochteca The magnificently clad emperor figure is based on descriptions by Fray Bernardino de Sahagun and some rare illustrations (one being found in the Codex Cozcatzin). The tunic is an ehuatl which covers an ichcahuipilli cotton armor vest and decorated with red spoon-bill feathers. Quetzal plumes cover a skirt made of leather strips to protect the legs. The emperor wears the royal turquoise inlaid crown of rulership called a xiuhuitzolli, reserved only for his use. The cihuacoatl (meaning "Snake Woman" but was male) was the vice-ruler and second only to the tlatoani and many times served as the supreme field commander as well as overseeing internal city affairs during peace. He wears a long-sleeved ehuatl and the diagnostics of the death goddess. As supreme generals, they were known to coordinate precise and strategic troop movements with their banners. The pochteca, or merchant class, became extremely wealthy and served as both ambassadors and spies. Some of the most affluent, such as the figure depicted here, pushed strict Aztec sumptuous laws to their limits. Source: Osprey Military Men-At Arms series "Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Angus McBride


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Aztec Tlacochcalcatl, Texcocoan King
Based on the codex mendoza and the codex ixtilxochitl. The tlacochcalcatl, or "high general", was probably the most prestigious rank out of the "council of four" which governed Tenochtitlan and decided on the elections of new emperors, all of them having very important and indispensable duties. It was common for emperors to have formerly served as tlacochcalcatl before finally being elected. This figure wears the macabre "tzitzimitl" or "frightful demon" outfit. A Tlacochcalcatl would serve as supreme field commander in the absence of either the tlataoni or cihuacoatl. The Texcocoan king being conversed with is based off of illustrations of king Nezahuacoyotl of Texcoco, the second most powerful city-state in the Triple Alliance. Source: Osprey Military Warrior series 32 "Aztec Warrior AD1325-1521" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Adam Hook


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Elite Aztec cuachiqueh forming a battleline of intimitation
Osprey Military Warrior series 32 "Aztec Warrior AD1325-1521" by John Pohl. Illustrator Adam Hook


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Aztec helmets and armor
One of the figures wears a blue version of the frightful tzitzimitl helmet. One is the more widely known jaguar helmet and the red helmet belongs to a red coyote outfit. Source: Osprey Military Warrior series 32 "Aztec Warrior AD1325-1521" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Adam Hook


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Various Aztec banners and flags with a cihuacoatl

Source: Osprey Military Warrior series 32 "Aztec Warrior AD1325-1521" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Adam Hook

Continued...

Last edited by hydarnes; September 22nd, 2012 at 03:53 PM.
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 03:43 PM   #2
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High ranking outfits of the ruling class
A range of particular outfits were reserved only for rulers, although emperors were free to wear whatever they liked and certainly did so. From left to right: Cuauhtemoc, based on a picture from the Lienzo de Tlaxcala. Emperor Motecuhzoma II from the codex Vaticanus depicting him at the conquest of Toluca dressed as the god Xipe Totec in probably an imitation "flayed human skin" tlahuiztli. Axayacatl from the codex cozcatzin also dressed as Xipe Totec but wearing the blue turquoise xiuhuitzolli diadem of rulers. A composite ruler figure based on mendoza, florentino, ixtilixochitl and matritense codices. Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain





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Cuachique and Otomitl in various outfits
Although cuachique were entitled to all sorts of special clothing and attire they would often dress down as well as a demonstration of fearlessness. The figure on the very right is an Otomitl, the second most prestigious warrior rank.

Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain


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Jaguar warrior, warrior, tlacochcalcatl, cuextecatl solder

Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain




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Warrior priest, warrior priest, physician priest, jaguar warrior.

Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain



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Archer, Aztec pochteca and porters
The pochteca lived in their own section of every Aztec city and town and were highly esteemed and received a great deal of privileges. Under the Tlatoani Ahuitzotl they were elevated to the same rank as warriors of the military orders and had their own leader and in wartime elected their own commanders overseeing their own troops. Many times they were wealthier than the noble class, but mostly tried to hide their wealth appearing to be humble when associating with the nobility so as to not stir up envy.

Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain


Continued...

Last edited by hydarnes; September 22nd, 2012 at 03:51 PM.
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 03:45 PM   #3
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AZTEC ENEMIES & ALLIES

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Tlaxcaltec Officer, Tlaxcaltec porter, Texcocoan King
Tlaxcala was a fierce enemy of the triple alliance and was never completely conquered by the Empire, although by the time of the Spanish arrival they were in the process of being completely choked into submission. The figure on the very right is based off of Texcocoan king Nezahuacoyotl who was a powerful king and contemporary of Motecuhzoma I. His appearance is based off of an illustration found in the codex mendoza. He was succeeded by his competent son Nezahualpilli who lived up until the end of Motecuhzoma II's reign. Under their reign Texcoco was the second largest and most prestigious city in the triple alliance and was more of the cultural center of the empire. Source: Osprey Military Men-At-Arms series 101 "The Conquistadores" by Terence Wise. Illustrator: Angus McBride


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Aztec archer, peasant levy, allied officer
These are examples of non-Mexica troops who can still be considered "Aztec" in the broader term of the empire definition. The middle figure is a typical peasant levy wearing no armor and a wooden club.The cuahololli pole-axe with obsidian edging held by the officer pictured was not used by the Mexica-Aztec, preferring instead the macuahuitl. Conquered city states were obligated to lend military might during Aztec campaigns which could number in the hundreds of thousands. They typically overwhelmed their enemies. Source: Osprey Military Men-At-Arms series 101 "The Conquistadores" by Terence Wise. Illustrator: Angus McBride


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Tlaxcallan soldier, elite warrior, bowman
Tlaxcallans were from the same nahuatl speaking group as the Mexica and evidently exhibited no less of a fierceness, resisting Aztec dominance right up until the Spanish conquest. They were highly organized but did not have a single king, rather dividing rulership among 4 lords who shared equally in decisions and power. Tlaxcallans could be identified by their red and white headband of nationality. Tlaxcallans used their excellent use of the bow to their advantage against the Mexica who scorned at its use. High ranking Tlaxcallans would use the bow as well as commoners, whereas no nobility among the Aztec would use it. Such a fact played against the Aztecs. Source: Osprey Military Men-At Arms series "Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Angus McBride

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Elite Huexotzincan warrior, Tlaxcallan general, Coixtlahuacan or Cholulan warrior-priest
While the tlahuiztli body-suits were predominantly worn by the Aztecs, they were also worn by other allied and enemy nahuatl speakers of the area. The first figure wearing the yellow coyote uniform is from Huexotzinca which was an ally to Tlaxcala and a bitter enemy of the Aztec. Huexotzinca in earlier times was the dominant faction being slowly overshadowed by Tlaxcalla. The coyote warrior was also an the highest ranking Aztec military order for the warrior priesthood. He would have looked identical to the figure pictured except without the lower-lip white shell or jaguar tooth tusk which symbolized Huexotzingan nationality. One of the four rulers of Tlaxcalla or their sons would act as general, or commander in chief, of a military defense operation against the triple alliance. The warrior priest from Coixtlahuaca is taken from a Mixtec codice (the zouche-nuttall). Coixtlahuaca was a powerful and extremely wealthy city-state before being subjugated by a Mexica army of 300,000 during the reign of Motecuhzoma I. The formidable kingdom of Cholula was subjugated by the time of the Spanish arrival. Source: Osprey Military Men-At Arms series "Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Angus McBride

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Tlaxcallan soldiers
Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain

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Tlaxcallan soldiers
Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain

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Mixtec oracular priest, Queen, slinger
The oracular priest is based off of the codex vindobonensis and he is dressed as the death goddess. Oracles wielded tremendous authority, especially in terms of when the Mixtecs should engage in military action against their foes. The Mixtec queen is based on Six Monkey Nunuu from the codex nuttall. Many times when there were no men to succeed royal houses women would fill the vacuum. Source: Osprey Military Men-At Arms series "Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Angus McBride



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Mixtec standard-bearer, priest, warlord
This warlord's outfit is based on those worn by Eight Deer Nacuaa, king of Tilantongo, from the codex nuttall. He is armed with an atlatl, a weapon favored by the Mixtec upper crust. The Mixtec were not controlled by one central emperor figure, each city state being ruled over by a petty-king or lord. There was often much feuding between them, although they all generally united in times of war when facing a common enemy such as the Aztec Empire. Most of the most powerful Mixtec city-states were subjugated by the Aztecs and paid tribute to the empire. The priest is based off of Eight Deer's father in the codices bodley and nuttall. He wears a xocilli, a one-piece "long shirt" which was a common dress among the Mixtec aristocracy. Source: Osprey Military Men-At Arms series "Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Angus McBride


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Zapotec priest, warlord, drummer
Zapotec priests would also act as captains and would often appear in battle clad in the skin of flayed victims. The warlord wears the royal crown of Zaachila and is armed with an atlatl. Zapotecs were as cunning and duplicitous as the Mixtecs were fierce and brave when it came to warfare. They would jostle their way into staying competitive against the constantly overshadowing Mixtecs by making and breaking alliances when it was convenient for them. Source: Osprey Military Men-At Arms series "Aztec, Mixtec and Zapotec Armies" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Angus McBride




Continued...
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 03:46 PM   #4
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Aztec warriors engaging Tlaxcallan warriors
Illustrator: Peter Dennis

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Siege of Coixtlahuaca AD 1458
Lord Atonaltzin battles the Aztecs but is prevailed against. Coixtlahuaca was one of the most dominant Mixtec city-states and most likely the wealthiest at the time, therefore it was highly coveted by the Triple Alliance. The Aztecs accused Lord Atonal of killing hundreds of merchants and so they they attacked the city with 300,000 and took it. Atonal was killed and his household sold into slavery.

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Aztec cuachiqueh surprise the Huaxtecs and defeat them AD1454
Source: Osprey Military Warrior series 32 "Aztec Warrior AD1325-1521" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Adam Hook

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Aztecs battle against Conquistadores and Tlaxcallans during the siege of Tenochtitlan, AD1521. Much is not knowing about the "Flaming Coyote" warrior, although it is likely that this was a variation of the highest warrior-priest rank which was entitled to wear a yellow coyote tlahuiztli. Source: Osprey Military Warrior series 32 "Aztec Warrior AD1325-1521" by John Pohl. Illustrator: Adam Hook

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Mixtecs & Zapotecs
From left to right, Zapotec, Zapotec, Mixtec Mixtec Mixtec.
Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain

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Mixtec & other Native peoples
From left to right, Mixtec, Mixtec, other Native warriors.
Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain

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Tarascan King (Cazonci) and valient men
The Tarascan State was the second most formidable in Mesoamerica during the time of the Aztec Empire. The Aztecs tried on at least a couple of occasions to conquer them but failed. The Tarascans enjoyed many advantages including strategic location, fierce resistance tactics and the Triple Alliance's inability to mobilize enough troops together in that direction for a long distance campaign. The fact that the Aztecs did not put emphasis on the bow allowed the Tarascans to shower them with so many missiles that by the time they would engage them they were already crippled. Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain

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Tarascan Troops
Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain

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Tarascan Troops and other Natives
From left to right, Tarascan porter, priest, other, other.
Source: "Armies of the Sixteenth Century - The armies of the Aztec and Inca Empires, other native peoples of the Americas, and the Conquistadores 1450-1608" by Ian Heath. Illustrator: uncertain
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 04:29 PM   #5

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That Teotihuacan picture does look suspect. The Teotihuacan murals are generally very abstract even by Mesoamerican standards. Maya sources showing Teotihuacan clothing and armor are much better. Here's an article on the subject including pictures: Trappings of Sacred War: The Warrior Costume of Teotihuacan.
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 04:34 PM   #6

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Excellent idea for a thread, I think I own a couple of the Osprey books you used.

The blue jaguar warrior is interesting, I wonder what other colors they came in? I had always assumed they used the actual pelt of a jaguar.
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 04:42 PM   #7

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Quote:
Originally Posted by Salah View Post
Excellent idea for a thread, I think I own a couple of the Osprey books you used.

The blue jaguar warrior is interesting, I wonder what other colors they came in? I had always assumed they used the actual pelt of a jaguar.
Yeah, sources vary often on this. Though I'd assume using the actual pelt might be difficult oftentimes. I mean you'd also have to fit it over armor that likely covers not just the torso but the limbs as well.

In any case, I feel I should add to the thread, so here, a contemporary Maya mural from Bonampak showing warriors showing off their captives, I will post more contemporary renditions later as well as any other pictures I might find.
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 04:47 PM   #8

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Ah, I've seen that one, with their fingernails being pulled out. Ugly stuff.
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Old September 22nd, 2012, 05:50 PM   #9

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Maybe by Tim Newark?
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Old September 23rd, 2012, 09:57 AM   #10

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Hey hydarnes, just curious but besides Osprey what sources do you use? Because I was wondering how the Zapotecs differed from their neighbors if at all. The Osprey book featuring them doesn't seem to have anything on that subject at all, Zapotecs get hardly a mention despite being in the title. Also, does that Armies of the 16th Century book feature the Maya at all? I've thought about getting it in the past.
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