Tuesday, August 25, 2009

Map Reveals Pre-Columbian History of Ancient Mexicans

From the Latin American Tribune Caracas, August 25, 2009 Ancient Map Offers Key to Mesoamerican History By Francisco MiravalDENVER – A map painted by Mexican Indians in the mid-16th century has become a key document for understanding the migration of Mesoamerican peoples from their land of origin in what is now the U.S. Southwest, according to a scholar at Harvard University Divinity School. “Five years of research and writing (2002-2007) by 15 scholars of Mesoamerican history show that this document, the Map of Cuauhtinchan 2, with more than 700 pictures in color, is something like a Mesoamerican Iliad and Odyssey,” Dr. David Carrasco told Efe in a telephone interview. “The map tells sacred stories and speaks of pilgrimages, wars, medicine, plants, marriages, rituals and heroes of the Cuauhtinchan community, which means Place of the Eagle’s Nest (in the present-day Mexican state of Puebla),” he said. The map, known as MC2, was painted on amate paper made from tree bark probably around 1540, just two decades after the Spanish conquest of Mexico.Through images and pictographs, the map recounts the ancestral history of the Mesoamerican people of Chicomoztoc, meaning Place of the Seven Caves, followed by their migration to the sacred city of Cholula and the foundation of Cuauhtinchan, probably in 1174. The document was apparently meant to resolve a dispute between the indigenous peoples and the conquistadors as to land ownership in Cuauhtinchan and surrounding areas, following the evangelizing process that began in 1527 and was intensified in 1530 with the building of the town’s first convent, which seems to have entailed the dismantling of the Indian temple. “The history begins in a sacred city under attack and continues with the people of Aztlan coming to the city’s rescue. In compensation they are granted divine authority to travel long distances until they find their own city in the land promised them. Their travels are guided by priests, warriors and divinities,” Carrasco said. That sacred city and the original land of Aztlan would have been in what is today the Southwestern United States. MC2 remained in Cuauhtinchan until 1933, the year it was sent to a regional museum and later came into the possession of an architect.In 2001, philanthropist Espinosa Yglesias acquired the map and shortly afterwards contacted Harvard’s Center of Latin American Studies to ask who could analyze the map. Harvard chose Carrasco. The result of five years of interdisciplinary studies was the publication of the 479-page book “Cave, City, and Eagle’s Nest: An Interpretive Journey Through the Map of Cuauhtinchan No. 2.” Rest of article.

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