Indigenous Engineering and Aesthetics in Colonial Mexico City

Lecture | October 26 | 5-7 p.m. | 101 2251 College (Archaeological Research Facility)

 Enrique Rodriguez-Alegria, Associate Professor, Anthropology, University of Texas Austin

 Archaeological Research Facility

Archaeological excavations in the heart of Mexico City can help understand how indigenous people created and transformed both public and private spaces in the city before and after the Spanish conquest of 1521. Scholars have remarked that historical narratives left by Spanish colonizers describe Tenochtitlan, the capital of the Aztec empire, as a feature of the landscape rather than a feat of indigenous engineering. Scholarship on architecture and urban change after the conquest has in turn focused extensively on the actions of colonizers in destroying the previous city and building new, more European buildings. Archaeological data from Mexico City show that many pre-conquest engineering techniques were used to build the colonial city, allowing us to see the role of indigenous engineering, architecture, and technology in building the capital of New Spain. Archaeological data also show, surprisingly, that indigenous builders created the earliest houses for Spanish colonizers with their traditional, indigenous aesthetics.