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The Invention of Chinampa Agriculture Essay

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“And when we saw all those cities and villages built in the water and other great towns on dry land, and that straight and level causeway leading to Tenochtitlan, we were amazed…Indeed, some of our soldiers asked if it was not all a dream,” a Spanish chronicler, Bernal Diaz del Castillo (Woodard), describes the beautiful capital of the Aztec Empire, Tenochtitlan, in awe of the city’s intricate landscape upon their Spanish arrival. The Aztecs were located in the Basin of Mexico, which is a part of Mesoamerica (Popper). Mesoamerica refers to the region known as Central America that includes the modern nations of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and El Salvador. Several innovative developments took place in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, such as chocolate, their divinatory calendar, their writing systems, and a Mayan ballgame called Ollama. However, the invention in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica that holds the most significance is the development of chinampa agriculture. The Aztecs utilized many farming techniques to feed their ever growing population, but since Tenochtitlan was built on swampy land, chinampas were the main food production (Jaime Cóttrill C.).
Although the Aztecs adapted and popularized the chinampa agriculture, the Xochimilca were the first to develop this raised-bed agriculture. The Aztecs came to use the chinampas after expanding their empire into the Basin of Mexico and conquering the people native to the region, the Xochimilca. The Xochimilca people had settled on a small peninsula jutting out into Lake Xochimilco; hence their name. From this lake is where The Xochimilca obtained all their materials to build all their structures. As their population grew, the Xochimilca people were in need of a new food source, so...


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Cóttrill C, Jaime .. N.p.. Web. 20 Nov 2013.
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Woodard, Spencer. “Chinampa: Raised-bed hydrological agriculture”. anthropogen.com.
Wordpress, 24 Apr. 2011. Web. 20 Nov. 2013.

Pohl, J.. N.p.. Web. 20 Nov 2013.
.

Mader, R.. N.p.. Web. 21 Nov 2013.
.

Arco, Lee J. and Elliot M. Abrams. “An Essay On Energetics: The Construction Of The
Aztec Chinampa system”. antiquity 80. 310 (2006): 906-918. Print.

The National Geographic Society. Peoples and Places of the Past. Washington D. C.:
The National Geographic Society, 1983. Print.

Morehart, Christopher T. “Mapping ancient chinampa landscapes in the Basin of Mexico: a remote
sensing and GIS approach” Journal of Archaeological Science (2012): Print.


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