Native navigation traditions in Mexico Central Plateau: a study between archaeology and ethnology

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Native navigation traditions in Mexico Central Plateau: a study between archaeology and ethnology


In the Americas, long before the Conquest, existed various native navigation techniques (coastal, lacustrine and fluvial), aboard numerous and diversified wooden boats. Among these, stands one that was made by carving a tree trunk: the dugout canoe. As an evidence of human ingenuity, it acquired its importance by being the bridge between land and water, representing the bond between the human and the aquatic world. Similarly, this means of transportation played a primordial part in the native civilizations as it was involved in daily activities at different levels: transportation (people, goods, raw material), natural resource exploitation (hunting, gathering and fishing), rituals and war. These activities implied the organization of the lacustrine areas, thanks to adapted facilities such as channels, piers, bridges and warehouses. In Mexico’s Central Plateau, in the endoreic basins of Mexico and Pátzcuaro, flourished two of the most powerful contemporaneous and rival empires in all Mesoamerica: the Mexica and the Tarascan (Fig.1). Based on their respective lacustrine surroundings and specific methods, they accomplished the edification of their capitals, Tenochtitlan and Tzintzuntzan, through the use of navigation. Nowadays, some remains of these antique and powerful civilizations naval technology still exists, allowing us, thanks to a multidisciplinary method, to approach a broad vision of their history and transformation.


Alexandra Biar, in Van Tilburg, H., Tripati, S., Walker Vadillo, V., Fahy, B., and Kimura, J. (eds.)





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