Ancient Mexico and the Legacy of Henry B. Nicholson

Part of: Society for American Archaeology 82nd Annual Meeting, Vancouver, BC (2017)

Henry B. Nicholson dominated the field of Aztec studies for over four decades leaving behind a vast amount of scholarship. In the decade since his passing, that corpus continues to stand the test of time with many of his works being among the most cited resources in the field. His contributions to ethnohistory, archaeology, and iconography are vast and provide the point of departure for many specialists. It is certainly a legacy worthy of contemplation. This session will unite both junior and senior academics through a series of papers aimed at contemplating just how his legacy continues to impact current research. While this impact has been great on Central Mexican studies in particular, it has also influenced important cultural areas outside the Basin of Mexico including the Gulf Coast and Chichen Itza.

Resources Inside This Collection (Viewing 1-7 of 7)

  • Documents (7)

  • Climbing the Home of the Rain Gods: Mountain Cults in Ancient Central Mexico (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Jeremy Coltman. Jesper Nielsen.

    According to Henry B. Nicholson, the rain deity Tlaloc enjoyed the most active and widespread cult in ancient Mexico. This assertion is surely correct, and is further evidenced from later ethnohistoric and ethnographic sources. Closely related to Tlaloc - and his earlier manifestations - were the Tepictoton, little directional mountain deities venerated during the veintenas of Tepeilhuitl and Atemoztli. In this paper we review Nicholson's original observations seen in the light of new...

  • Entre genes y memes: estudios de paleogenética de poblaciones en el México antiguo (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Diana Bustos-Ríos. Ana Itzel Juárez-Martin.

    El centro de México ha sido una región de convergencia y tránsito de ideas y mercancías desde la época prehispánica. Los grandes centros urbanos del Clásico y del Posclásico se caracterizaron por un constante trasiego que alcanzó desde el actual centro de México hasta Centroamérica. La intensidad de este intercambio desde épocas muy tempranas consolidó el complejo cultural mesoamericano principalmente identificado por la iconografía. Sin embargo no sólo las ideas y las mercaderías viajan,...

  • Family Trees & Feathered Serpents at Chichén Itzá: Expanding H.B. Nicholson’s Understanding of Kukulcan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Cynthia Kristan-Graham.

    While H.B. Nicholson’s magnum opus about Topiltzin Quetzalcoatl concentrates on ethnohistory, he acknowledges that some imagery at Chichén Itzá may highlight the feathered serpent’s role as patron. I propose other readings for Kukulcan ("Feathered Serpent" in Yucatecan Maya) at Early Postclassic Chichén Itzá. Linguistic and ethnographic evidence indicates that the feathered serpent symbolizes lineage and ancestry and that rattlesnake physiognomy intersects with fertility. These readings...

  • HB Nicholson and the Gulf Coast (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Rex Koontz.

    While known primarily as an Aztec specialist, HB Nicholson was instrumental in beginning a dialog on regional iconographies. A key example of this dialog was his work on deity complexes. Building on his mastery of the ethnohistorical data, Nicholson’s work on deity complexes attempted to locate particular deity groups with certain regions. This essay looks at Nicholson’s hypotheses on Gulf Coast iconography and how those hypotheses have helped shape the regional iconographies now being...

  • The Legacy of a Tlamatini: H.B. Nicholson's Mesoamerican Archive (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Claudia Camacho-Trejo.

    H.B. Nicholson was considered the Tlamatini of Aztec studies. He was also known as a warm and generous professor who dedicated his life to the study of Mesoamerican cultures. His legacy is highlighted by his remarkable collection of articles, books, photographs, and slides acquired over more than five decades. After his death in 2007, Nicholson’s family donated his entire private collection of books, articles, slides, and photographs to the University of California, Los Angeles. Five years ago,...

  • The Ometochtli Complex and its Presence in the Offerings of the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Diego Matadamas Gómora.

    In 1971, H.B. Nicholson classified the Mesoamerican pantheon of god’s by their symbolic elements and functions. One of the most important groups of this classification is the "Ometochtli Complex", which is exclusively constituted of gods related to the most significant alcoholic beverage in pre-Hispanic México, the octli or pulque. This drink is created through the fermentation of the agave juice. Thus, pulque gods are easily identifiable due to key elements present in their attire. At the...

  • The Personification of Sacrificial Fire: An Undescribed Deity in Imperial Mexica Sculpture (2017)
    DOCUMENT Citation Only Angel González López. Andrew D. Turner.

    A recurring theme in H.B. Nicholson’s groundbreaking analysis of Central Mexican deities is the application of a holistic approach to the analysis of Mexica stone sculpture, which includes visual and iconographic analysis, and comparison to early colonial texts. This paper will analyze a poorly understood deity that appears in late Mexica stone sculpture based on Nicholson’s innovative methodology. This fanged being appears only in stone sculpture from the imperial capital, and has previously...