Around 500 years ago the once flourishing Aztec Empire suddenly collapsed. Who or what killed them? Was it the Spaniards? Or perhaps some terrible epidemic? Scientists believe that the latter of the two might have been the culprit, and it looks like they’ve finally found exactly what brought on this civilization-destroying disease.
Watch this video to find out how it came about and to learn some interesting facts about the Aztecs that you might not have known.

When did the Aztecs start dying? 1:14
Theories: what caused this mass dying 2:00
"The Aztecs" isn’t exactly their original name 4:25
The Aztecs kind of pre-invented basketball 4:46
The Aztecs used an interesting calendar 5:36
The Aztecs had a unique system of slavery 6:17
Polygamy was allowed to Aztec men 7:17
Nahuatl was the official language of the Aztecs 8:09
The Aztecs made amazing art 8:33
The Aztecs had a compulsory public schooling system 9:18
The Aztecs’ capital was located in the middle of a lake 9:50
The Aztecs shared chocolate with the rest of the world 10:15


Scientists have always had several theories as to what caused this mass dying. Well, it looks like they’ve finally found the answer in their most recent research, the results of which were published in the Nature Ecology and Evolution journal. Molecular paleopathologist Kirsten Bos and her team analyzed DNA extracted from the teeth of Aztec remains buried in what is now southern Mexico. They worked with 29 human skeletons, using the latest scientific research methods, and they found traces of the salmonella enterica bacterium!
We’ve all heard of salmonella, the bacteria known for causing food poisoning. Nowadays it takes most people 4 to 7 days to recover from it on their own, but in Aztec times, things were quite different. As we know, this bacterium enters our bodies from contaminated food and water and mostly affects the gut. But finding it in their teeth means that it was spreading throughout their bodies and into their bloodstream. Who would’ve thought that something we don’t really give a second thought to today could be powerful enough to take down an entire empire!

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