May 1999 Meeting of the Pre-Columbian Society

May 8, 1999 Dr Barbara Mundy, "Mapmaking in 16th Century Mexico: Communities and Contexts"

Barbara E. Mundy is author of "The Mapping of New Spain:Indigenous Cartography and the Maps of the Relaciones Geoogra'ficas".  In a brief caption about the book, PCS member Lloyd Anderson writes "It is a broad investigation of these maps(mapas, lienzos, etc.) from various perspectives, richly illustrated.  Well worth it [the $40 price]."  The cartography of the late Pre-Columbian and early colonial periods are subjects not frequently discussed, and Dr. Mundy's talk was both interesting and informative.

Pre-Columbian Americans had a vibrant tradition of mapmaking, and it continued, even thrived, after the Spanish conquest. During this time, native maps appealed both to traditional audiences and to new colonial ones. This lecture focused on the native maps of Mexico, revealing the tranformations and continuations in subject matter and meaning during the early colonial period.

No maps dating from the pre-Columbian period have survived.  Dr. Mundy focused on 16th century maps of both Aztec and Mixtec origin.  Many of these maps are symbolic, like the map of Tenochtitlan appearing in the Aztec Codex Mendoza. However, there are some very detailed Aztec administrative maps for regions of Tenochtitlan showing individual milpas and their owners, as well as canals and roads, in an extensive grid pattern.

     Dr. Barbara Mundy received both her B.A. and Ph.D. from Yale University. Her book on maps in colonial Mexico, The Mapping of New Spain, was published by the University of Chicago in 1996. She currently teaches in the Department of Art History and Music of Fordham University, and her current research deals with pre-Columbian fakes and collections.

back to home page