Universiteit Leiden

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Research project

The Nahua-Tlaxcalteca Calendar during the colonial period and the contemporary perception of time in Santa Catarina (Acaxochitlan, Hidalgo, México)

How was time understood during the colonial period by Tlaxcaltecan Naua communities? What is the relationship between time, spirituality and ritual in the present-day Naua community of Santa Catarina? What does this tell us about the strengths and values of Indigenous heritage and about the impact of colonization and modernization?

European Research Council (Advanced Grant 295434). European Research Council (Advanced Grant 295434).

Short abstract

This research project analyzes the transition from an ancient Mesoamerican calendar system to a Gregorian one, as well as the simultaneous use of these two calendar systems by Indigenous communities throughout the colonial era and today. The research is a combination of historical and philological analysis of colonial community documents (as preserved in the archives of the fiscales) and of participatory fieldwork in the Naua community of Santa Catarina (Acaxochitlan, Hidalgo, México).

Priestess Ciuatlamatque Isabel Flores. Santa Catarina. Acaxochitlan.


Offering during Semana Santa [Holy Week] in Santa Catarina. Acaxochitlan.


Annals of Atlihuetzia 02. XVIIth century. Archivo de la fiscalia de Santa María Atlihuetzia, Tlax.


Offering to the Grandmother Deity Maceuatenancatzintli, at the Tlalticpactli sacred place (Santa Catarina, Acaxochitlan)


Project description

This investigation has advanced in collecting, transcribing, translating and interpreting an important Nahua documentary corpus, basically consisting of community annals from the Mexican state of Tlaxcala (such as the Annals of Atlihuetzia). These documents are the basis for understanding time perception and ritual life of Naua communities in the states of Tlaxcala and Hidalgo during the colonial era. This historical and philological study is combined with the documentation and study of the religious life and oral tradition of the contemporary Naua community Santa Catarina, Acaxochitlan (State of Hidalgo. México).

The awareness and recognition of the wealth of historical documentation and of cultural continuity that exist in Naua communities in the states of Tlaxcala and Hidalgo are important for the appreciation of these important cultural resources, and in general for the social consciousness and emancipation of Indigenous Peoples in Mexico.

The combined study of colonial documents and present-day community life, allows for an analysis of continuities and changes, which is crucial for a better understanding of Mesoamerican Civilization and its development.

The project is carried out at the Faculty of Archaeology Leiden University, which functions as a center for individuals interested in the pre-colonial, colonial and contemporary life of Mesoamerican communities.



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