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Did the Aztecs Use Sulfuric Acid? The Evidence Provided by the Six Burned Pages of the Codex Borgia

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Scholarly descriptions of the pre-Columbian Aztec manuscript known as the Codex Borgia consistently report that the damage that can be seen on six of its pages was caused by fire. However, a detailed inspection of these pages shows that this damage may not have been caused by fire. In this article I propose that the physical evidence in the Codex Borgia, ethnohistoric records in which Aztec sages explain the use of pyrite to dry painted manuscripts, and chemical studies of dehydrating agents, suggest that the Aztecs may have known how to produce sulfuric acid and used it to treat their painted books.

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