Colonial Documents

Eduardo de Jesús Douglas

in The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195390933
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

Colonial Documents

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This article discusses colonial Mesoamerican documents. After 1521, the indigenous peoples of Mesoamerica became subjects of the Spanish king, thereby coming into contact with European cultural, economic, political, social, and technological practices. New forms of writing and record keeping as well as types of mundane and literary texts entered the Mesoamerican repertoire, eventually displacing the traditions of iconic script (“picture writing”) inherited from the prehispanic past, which indigenous painter-scribes sustained and transformed throughout the first colonial century. Colonial Mesoamerican documents may be broadly but not categorically defined as private or public and nonofficial or official. The study and publication of Mesoamerican colonial documents began in the nineteenth century, as scholars combed archives, libraries, and private collections for primary sources relating to the history of Spanish America.

Keywords: Mesoamerica; colonial documents; writing; record keeping

Article.  5987 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology by Region ; History of Art

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