Monday, August 20, 2012

The Geodestruction of Tenochtitlan

The Spanish crushed the Aztecs and took their capital Tenochtitlan on August 13, 1521.  The greatly damaged yet still mighty city still served as a sign of Mesoamerican empire to the Spaniards.  In order to show that there domination of the New World was to be complete in all things, the Spaniards destroyed everything in the city and built on top of it the de facto capital of the Spanish Western Hemisphere, Mexico City.

On top of the ruins of the Aztec's main temple was built the Metropolitan Cathedral, which acted as the headquarters of the Catholic Church for half the world for some time.

View Larger Map

The ruins which were not completely scavenged for building material were buried underground.  Today, to the immediate northeast of the Cathedral are the only remaining ruins of any significance left of Tenochtitlan.

View Larger Map

However, the Spaniards made physical geography errors in their destruction of Tenochtitlan.  They destroyed the Aztec flood control infrastructure and deforested and over plowed the nearby terrain.  Lake Texcoco flooded repeatedly and this climaxed with the 1629 flood that submerged most of Mexico City for five years.  The Spanish then decided on a policy of draining Lake Texcoco turning it from a great lake to a rump salt marsh found only to the east of Mexico City.

The lake overlaid with a modern map.  From Lonely Islands.

What is left of Lake Texcoco

The draining and then the flood control lasted well into the 1900s.  The Spanish and Mexicans had destroyed Tenochtitlan and the mighty Lake Texcoco.  However, the lake, which the Aztecs lived around and the Spanish-Mexicans sought to conquer, was not finished.  Next week we will look into the lake's revenge.

1 comment:

Dan tdaxp said...

Fascinating! I didn't know about that long flood!