Rethinking Human Sacrifice in Aztec Culture
A Live, Illustrated Zoom Talk with historian Dr Caroline Pennock on Wednesday the 26th October 2022 at 7:00 pm

This lecture will take place virtually, via Zoom. Attendees may request a video recording after the lecture takes place by emailing proof of purchase to

The history of the Aztecs has been haunted by the spectre of human sacrifice. As bloody priests and brutal warriors, the Aztecs (or more correctly Mexica) people the pages of history, myth and fiction, their spectacular violence dominating popular understandings of their culture and casting a veil over their unique way of life.

In this talk, Caroline Dodds Pennock, the UK’s only Aztec historian, will show how this notorious violence was actually a comprehensible element of Aztec life and religion. One of the most remarkable things about the Aztec people is that they were not dehumanized by their brutal rituals of sacrifice. These were compassionate, highly educated, and very familiar people, who loved poetry and music and had close ties to their families. But, for the Aztecs, darkness also loomed over their existence, and they were compelled to feed their gods with blood to save the world from ending for all humanity.

Exploring the importance of both men and women in sacrificial ritual, this talk will reveal the Aztec understanding of sacrifice, and the ways in which it opens a window onto their unique world view.

Tickets £5 including a 20% donation toward a host of restoration projects at Kensal Green Cemetery. Please click here to purchase.

Dr Caroline Pennock
Dr Caroline Dodds Pennock is Senior Lecturer in International History at the University of Sheffield, specializing in Mesoamerica and the Atlantic world. She is the UK’s only Aztec historian, and her first book, Bonds of Blood: Gender, Lifecycle and Sacrifice in Aztec Culture (2008, PB: 2011) won the Royal Historical Society’s Gladstone Prize for 2008. Caroline’s new book On Savage Shores: How Indigenous Americans Discovered Europe – a groundbreaking history of how Native peoples from the Americas travelled to Europe after 1492 – will be published in January 2023. For more of Caroline’s work, you can follow her on twitter @carolinepennock or visit her website.

PLEASE NOTE - This talk will take place virtually via Zoom. Ticket sales will end at 5:00 pm BST on the day of the lecture. A link to the conference will be sent to the email used at checkout at 3:00 pm BST on the day of the event. Please email in the event your link fails to arrive.

Image credit - A 16th century drawing of a heart sacrifice performed before the altar of an earth or underworld deity with a ferocious image. Public domain courtesy of Wikimedia images.