Tlaloques, Tiemperos, and Trees: Cultural Models of Nature in Central Mexico

Author(s): Charles Stapleton; Maria Stapleton

Year: 2018


Abundant water-related art and architecture produced by Teotihuacanos and Mexica-Aztecs in the central Mexican highlands coupled with the rhetoric of today’s farmers from the same region regarding the catastrophic impacts of changes in local seasonal rainfall patterns make it clear that access to rainwater has always been a crucial factor for agricultural success in the semi-arid highlands of central Mexico, especially in communities that lack a reliable water source for irrigation. We collect a rich body of specialist knowledge regarding local understandings of relationships between animals, plants, hills, trees, humans, elements of weather, supernatural/spiritual beliefs, and farming practices that is widely shared in one such community of agriculturalists. Although this traditional knowledge has long been transmitted from generation to generation of agriculturalists, it is now in danger of permanent loss due to major shifts away from subsistence farming among the community’s youth. We employed semi-structured interviews, free-listing, and experimental tasks to elicit specialists’ conceptualizations of nature. Preliminary findings include a graded valuation of crops, natural and supernatural entities conceived as agentive in bringing rain, animals seen as bearers of knowledge of climatic change that humans can read, and human ability to predict and directly alter local rains and storms.

Cite this Record

Tlaloques, Tiemperos, and Trees: Cultural Models of Nature in Central Mexico. Charles Stapleton, Maria Stapleton. Presented at The 82nd Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Washington, DC. 2018 ( tDAR id: 443011)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 18.48 ; max long: -94.087; max lat: 23.161 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 22622