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Aztec botany and natural history in the 16th century (1552–1580)

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  • UserOsiris Sinuhé González Romero (University of Saskatchewan)
  • ClockMonday 16 May 2022, 13:00-14:00
  • HouseZoom.

If you have a question about this talk, please contact Olin Moctezuma.

This talk aims to show an overview of the Aztec botany, considering the primary sources available such as codices, sculptures, manuscripts, and chronicles, which the Spaniards wrote. A general objective is to highlight the role of indigenous knowledge, which frequently faces a lack of acknowledgement; this talk addresses the Aztec system of classifying plants based on the Nahuatl language. Also, the methodologies used to gather this knowledge will be under review. A specific objective will be analysing the influence of classical works (Aristoteles, Plinio the elder) in the writing and organisation of natural history works written during the 16th century. This talk focuses on three very well-known works: 1. De la Cruz-Badiano Codex, which is the first herbarium written in America by indigenous peoples; 2. the Florentine Codex or General History of the New Spain written by the Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún; and 3. the Natural History of New Spain written by Francisco Hernández. He headed a research expedition for seven years with the support of the Spanish Crown. The abovementioned cases are paradigmatic examples of the globalisation of knowledge and bio-coloniality during the 16th century.

This talk is part of the Cabinet of Natural History series.

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