College Lecture Series

April 19, 2017 - 4:00pm
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Martin Wasserman, Professor Emeritus of Psychology and Anthropology will present, "Sports, Games and Gambling in the Aztec World" on April 19th in Miller Auditorium.

Dr. Wasserman will first review the three major activities in which the Aztecs competed and gambled.  They are:  1) “Patolli” (a dice game), “Tlachtli” (a ball game), and “Volador” (an acrobatic game).  He will then talk about why the Aztecs, similar to nineteenth-century European Jews, preferred gambling over alcohol and drugs as a cultural diversion.  Also, Professor Wasserman will discuss why Aztec rulers, unlike the leaders of today, strongly encouraged gambling on the part of all competitors.  In addition, he will show that sports and games in the Aztec world were viewed much more as sacred activities, rather than just as mere displays of athleticism.  Finally, Dr. Wasserman will argue that for the Aztecs, even a creative skill such as writing poetry was seen not merely as an artistic endeavor but was considered, in a much broader existential sense, as a basic human gamble with death.

Assisting in this presentation will be Stuart Leinoff, Professor Emeritus of Physics.  He will be providing the necessary technical support to visually reinforce and enhance the information which is disseminated in the lecture.

Light refreshments will be served at the presentation.