Photo: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

Newly Discovered Mexican Map Shows Indigenous Assimilation With Spanish in 1500s

Aztec people had a fascinating life in Mexico, and a newly discovered map shows us just how incredible it was during the 1500s. The Library of Congress has released a rare look at how indigenous people assimilated to the Spanish who had just arrived in Mexico in 1519. And if you think gentrification didn’t exist back then you are mistaken. Aztecs had to deal with the merging of two cultures and this map truly shows that relationship.

The map itself, which dates between 1570 to 1595 was mostly likely created by an indigenous painter and writer, is more like a photo album for a family named “de Leon.” Writer  John Hessler of the Library of Congress  notes that the map for the de Leon family shows their property which “covers an area that runs from just north of Mexico City to just below Puebla.” The map shows both the land of this indigenous family and how the Spanish also began building their life in Mexico.

Photo: Library of Congress, Geography and Map Division.

“On the one hand, the map is a traditional Aztec cartographic history with its composition and design showing Nahuatl hieroglyphics, and typical illustrations,” Hessler writes, “On the other hand it also shows churches, some Spanish place names, and other images suggesting a community adapting to Spanish rule.”

According to the National Geographic: “The names of several indigenous leaders include the Spanish honorific ‘don,’ and the names of some, such as ‘don Alonso’ and ‘don Matheo,’ indicate that they’d been baptized with Spanish names.”

For someone like me, who is very interested in learning about their ancestry and is doing research on their DNA, this kind of finding is extremely important. The detail in this map, which shows the exact location of Puebla and introduction to Spanish people, and Spanish names could be so insightful to someone who’s family lived in that region. I, for one, will be inspecting this map very closely.