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date: 24 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Archaeological estimates for population are contentious and subject to large errors. However, the evidence is that a large population was present in the Basin of Mexico on the eve of Spanish contact and that severe depopulation of the indigenous inhabitants followed the introduction of Old World diseases, such as smallpox. Limited documentary and skeletal evidence from the first 250 years of the Colonial period reveals the size and ethnicities of the population and some evidence on health based on skeletal evidence. The best evidence currently available indicates that the nadir of the depopulation probably occurred by the middle of the eighteenth century, and Mexico City and the Basin of Mexico started to increase in population by the end of that century.

Keywords: precolumbian population estimates, Colonial period, depopulation, Old World diseases, Spanish contact, Mexico City, Basin of Mexico

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