Latin America •  History •  Anthropology and Religion

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Cave, City, and Eagle's Nest: An Interpretive Journey through the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2

Edited by Davíd Carrasco
Edited by Scott Sessions

Cave, City, And Eagle's Nest is the culmination of an international research project and series of conferences, organized by the Moses Mesoamerican Archive, focused on the sixteenth-century pictorial manuscript known as the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2. Painted on bark paper and measuring 109 x 204 centimeters, this extraordinary document contains over seven hundred images and symbols relating the story of the emergence of ancestors at Chicomoztoc (Place of Seven Caves), their migration to the sacred city of Cholula, their foundation and settlement of Cuauhtinchan (Place of the Eagle's Nest), their community's history and claim over the surrounding landscape, and many other occurrences along the way.

Dating from around the 1540s, barely two decades after the fall of the Aztecs, the mapa recently underwent extensive physical analysis, conservation, and a systematic photographic survey. These rare images--including sixteen full-size sections and a nearly quarter-size facsimile--accompany fifteen richly illustrated essays that explore the meanings and uses of the document, its complex narrative, and the social and ritual memory of an indigenous community struggling to hold its own in the turbulent atmosphere of early colonial Mexico.
Read The New York Review of Books' feature article "A Lost World on the Map"


Scott Sessions is managing editor of the African-American Religion Documentary History Project and research associate at Amherst College.

John H. Coatsworth is Monroe Gutman Professor of Latin American Affairs at Harvard University and director (1994-2006) of the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies.

Davíd Carrasco is Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America with a joint appointment in the Department of Anthropology and the Divinity School at Harvard University. He was recently awarded the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle.


"Carrasco and Sessions have edited a brilliant, innovative, and beautifully illustrated collection...Highly recommended."


Choice Magazine

"...a magnificent volume..."


Alma Guillermoprieto, New York Review of Books

"( Cave, City, and Eagle's Nest) is an extraordinarily thorough and beautifully produced study of the ( Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2). It is both a definitive scholarly examination of the document and a loving homage to its anonymous exemplary way to approach a document as significant and rich as the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2. It is a treasure of a book, devoted to viewing the map as itself a treasure of infinite value. All Mesoamericanists, and many others besides, will want to get their hands on it."


Sixteenth Century Journal

"Superbly illustrated and expertly written, the goundbreaking work of David Carrasco and Scott Sessions' has opened a new dialogue with post-conquest documents such as the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2 codex....highly recommended..."


Colonial Latin American Historical Review

"...a tour de force examination of (the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2)....The volume stands out for its daring, multi-year, multipurpose methodological explorations that reach beyond the normal iconographic approach and outside the usual limits of Mesoamerican studies, with remarkable results."


A Contracorriente

"This beautiful and comprehensive volume will be a particularly welcome addition to the libraries of anyone interested in pre-Hispanic and colonial Mesoamerica and in historical manuscript painting."


Hispanic American Historical Review

Published in association with the David Rockefeller Center for Latin American Studies and the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University

9 x 11.5 in. 506 pages 211 color plates