Tenochtitlan: A Cultural History of Water

Author(s): John Lopez

Year: 2017


Located today in Chicago’s Newberry Library, the 1524 Nuremberg Map, representing the pre-Hispanic city of Tenochtitlan on the eve of its conquest to Hernán Cortés, is an ink-and-watercolor image on paper, measuring 47.30 x 30.16 cm. Produced by an anonymous author in an unknown workshop in the German city of Nuremberg, it first appeared in the Latin edition of Cortés’ Second Letter to the Spanish monarch Charles V. It is the earliest printed map of a New World city and although it is a highly Europeanized image of the Aztec capital, the map is believed to have been based on a now-lost drawing made by the hand of an indigenous author. A fish-eye perspective, valued for depicting large geographic areas such as cities, it provides the viewer with a 360-degree view of the pre-Columbian city and its surrounding aquatic environs. Much has been written about the Tenochtitlan’s religious and political history, but water as a methodological lens to scrutinize the city’s social and cultural history has received considerable less attention. Through study of historical images, this paper explicates the undergirding currents of water to Tenochtitlan’s attitudes towards its public sphere.

Cite this Record

Tenochtitlan: A Cultural History of Water. John Lopez. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Vancouver, British Columbia. 2017 ( tDAR id: 430909)


Spatial Coverage

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

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 15538