Article

Humboldt in Mexico, 1803–1804

Myron Echenberg

in Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Latin American History


Published online July 2017 | e-ISBN: 9780199366439 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/acrefore/9780199366439.013.378

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During his breathtaking 19th-century scientific explorations of New Spain (as Mexico was known under Spanish rule), illustrious German scientific traveler Alexander von Humboldt crammed a lifetime of scientific studies into one extraordinary year: exhausting inspections of three major colonial silver mines, prodigious hikes to the summits of most of Mexico’s major volcanoes while taking scientific measurements and botanical samples, careful study of hitherto secret Spanish colonial archives in Mexico City, and visits to recently uncovered archaeological sites of pre-Hispanic cultures. Humboldt wrote voluminously about his Mexican experiences and is an indispensable source of insights into the colony of New Spain on the eve of its troubled birth as independent Mexico a decade later.

Keywords: Alexander von Humboldt; New Spain; Mexico; travel writing; scientific exploration; silver mining; pre-Hispanic archaeology

Article.  7202 words. 

Subjects: Latin American History ; Early Modern History (1500 to 1700) ; Environmental History ; Intellectual History

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