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Discovering the Mysteries of the “Oztoticpac Lands Map”: Paleography and Translation of Nahua Land Cadastre

Anastasia Kalyuta, Russian Museum of Ethnography, Summer Fellow 2015–2016

The main objectives of my research project were the paleography and translation of the Nahuatl and Spanish glosses of the Oztoticpac Lands Map. This early colonial document related to the inquisitorial process and execution of don Carlos Ome Tochtli, son of Nezahualpilli, the last prehispanic ruler of Tetzcoco. The map presents detailed plans of the Tetzcoco ruling family’s collective properties alongside land plots owned by don Carlos. The plans are accompanied by brief glosses in Spanish and more detailed texts written in the Classical Nahuatl, the main native language spoken in Central Mexico in the early sixteenth century. These glosses contain rich and unique data about antecedents of don Carlos’s execution and Nahua land tenure patterns. However, their paleography and translation pose serious challenges due to the damage caused by worms, fading ink, and the specifics of the sixteenth-century orthography. In order to solve these problems and to provide a careful paleography and adequate translation of the document’s alphabetical texts, the work was divided into three stages. First, a list of all the alphabetically written texts was made. Each text received a number, indicating its location on the map and conventional title by its first word(s). Second, the paleography of all the glosses was done in accordance with modern rules of transcription of ancient Spanish and Nahuatl manuscripts. Finally, the texts were translated into modern Spanish and compared with Tetzcocan pictorial documents, works of colonial native historians, and the materials of the inquisitorial process against don Carlos Ome Tochtli.