Wild Resource use in Early Colonial New Spain

Author(s): Nadia Johnson

Year: 2016


In 1570, 50 years after the conquest of Mexico, King Philip II of Spain sent one of his court physicians, Francisco Hernández de Toledo, to the new colony. The goal of this venture was to compile a detailed account of the natural history of New Spain, emphasizing indigenous medicine and the uses of local plant, animal, and mineral resources. The result of his efforts was a series of volumes, describing in detail the virtues of local Mexican resources, and his own observations of Mexico. This work was subsequently distilled into the Quatro libros de la naturaleza y virtudes de las plantas y animals, which remains one of the most comprehensive studies of indigenous natural resource use, and which will provide the basis for this project. This study will collate and quantify each of Hernández’ references to the use of natural resources, and to then classify them in 3 broad categories on the basis of use: food, medicine, and craft production. These will be further divided, where relevant, to consider additional variables, such as the availability, status, etc. for specific resources. The resulting information will be presented in concert with observations regarding wild resource use made by other 16th century chroniclers.

Cite this Record

Wild Resource use in Early Colonial New Spain. Nadia Johnson. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404629)

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Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;