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Description

Manuscript pictographic map of Morelos showing area now partially underwater

This is a road and boundary map with pictographic symbols showing area in the modern state of Morelos. At least some of the area is now underwater, inundated by the man-made Lago de Tequesquitengo.

Although at least one river is included, the main features on the map are roads (red lines) and what appear to be property boundaries (brown lines). Cerros, or hills, are a defining feature of the landscape; they are marked by dots inside the hill shape. Pueblos and haciendas are represented with pictures of their churches as well as their names.

Morelos is now one of the 31 states that make up Mexico, along with the Federal District. It is just south of Mexico D. F. and is the second smallest state in the nation. There is evidence of human habitation in the area dating back to 6000 BCE. Agriculture has been practiced since 1500 BCE. The Aztecs came to dominate the region in the 1420s and 30s. The Spanish came in the 1520s. In 1529, much of what is now the state was given over to Hernán Cortés, the conquistador, as part of his title as Marquis of the Valley of Oaxaca. When the Spanish came, agricultural production shifted from corn and cotton to sugar cane.

In the mid-nineteenth century, the owners of the Hacienda San José Vista Hermosa flooded their land to add to their irrigated holdings in order to grow more sugar cane. In the process, they also augmented the small lake that already existed to the north (not shown, but to the right on this map), forming Lago de Tequesquitengo. At least one town was displaced. Another version of the story goes that the owners of San José Vista Hermosa were angry at their workers and flooded the town as punishment. Today, the lake is a popular recreational area and makes up a very different geography from that shown in this map.

This map is part of a pair ( /gallery/detail/49428ba); the other is more detailed and contains more comments in red ink. Like the other, there is a signature and date in the bottom center, although this copy is dated 1795 and the other 1796. On this map, there is also a compass rose in the center and another signature, different from the one in the bottom center, at the left.

Reference
Coronel Don Antonio de Alcedo, Diccionario geográfico-histórico de las Indias Occidentales ó America ..., Volume 4 (Madrid: Manuel Gonzalez), 334.