The Aztec Empire, one of the most famous and most notable Empires in history especially throughout Latin America. It was dated to have first come about and around through what is now modern day Central America in the country of Mexico. The Empire was founded around 1428 and lasted roughly around a hundred years although this ancient group of people had quite a functional and one could argue a civilized empire. But how could a people who were fairly well adapted around this time have vanished after not being around for quite a century? That’s right you guessed it, it was due to the Europeans.
To be politically correct it was actually impart due to Conquistadors, or the explorers/conquerors for the Spanish Empire were the ones to have utterly crushed this empire, which was roughly estimated with a population to be as high as 25 million versus the small Spanish forces. It wasn’t so much that the Europeans were better equipped and were more technologically advanced than the Natives that brought the Aztecs to their demise, it was actually due to a much smaller and more dangerous adversary…. a deadly form of Salmonella which came from Europe.
In a pair of recent studies, they have suggested and seemed to have found that from recovered DNA of the stomach bacterium from burials in Mexico which can be traced back to the 1540s, it is said that this caused an epidemic that wiped out up to 80% of the country’s native inhabitants. They traced this and look back to when Hernando Cortés a famous Spanish Conquistador came pretty much after a century helped plummet that population to 1 million. They believe one of the largest of the outbreaks, Cocoliztli killed many people and that in cities/large towns would big huge unmarked graves and dump the dead within them. From this scientist gathered from using DNA and genetics to sequence DNA from 29 people buried and almost all were linked to Cocoliztli, and further sequencing of short damaged DNA showed and allowed the team to remake two genonmes of Salmonella enterica known as Paratyphi C. It is actually still found today and causes typhus like illness and is in most developing places, and if left untreated kills 10-15%.
Some things to consider is that modern medicine helps a lot and they didn’t have the same treatment to counter this threat. Also there is a question of origin which they think it came from Europe which if that is the case, this would leave the Natives to almost no immunity because they didn’t have contact with Europeans prior. Due to the lack of Sanitary conditions as well, this may have been a thriving source for Salmonella.
This is important because we have a better idea of what happened and can now trace ancient pathogens and the team looks to continue its findings and study other places such as in the Caribbean burial sites.