NASHVILLE — In 1520, the mighty Aztec Empire suffered two mortal blows. The first was the murder of its Emperor Montezuma. Even more devastating was an outbreak of smallpox, which swept through the empire’s capital city like a wildfire.
Hernán Cortés and other Spanish conquistadors brought the disease with them from the Old World, and the peoples of the New World had no resistance. Smallpox, typhus and other epidemics eventually wiped out nearly 90 percent of the native population.
“Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection,” on exhibit at the Frist Center for the Visual Arts through June 23, includes nearly 3,000 years’ worth of artworks and artifacts from the pre-Columbian New World.
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