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date: 26 February 2020

Abstract and Keywords

This chapter provides a brief discussion of the main themes relevant to historical ecology and how it differs from cultural ecology as used in Mesoamerican archaeology. A historical ecological perspective is appropriate for the study of Aztec landscape modification during the sixteenth century in the Basin of Mexico because of its inherent focus on the dialectical relationship between human populations and their environments. The Aztec landscape was viewed as a sacred entity and intensive exploitation was mediated by complex rituals within the indigenous worldview. Chinampas are discussed as an example of a highly intensive agroecological system within the sacred prehispanic landscape that has persisted until the present, although in the modern urban environment its preservation is fraught with risks and conflicting interests.

Keywords: Aztec landscape, sacred landscapes, chinampas, landscape modification, historical ecology

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