The Codex Telleriano Remensis, created within the 16th century in Mexico, depicts earthquakes in pictograms which might be the primary written proof of earthquakes within the Americas in pre-Hispanic instances, in accordance with a pair of researchers who’ve systematically studied the nation’s historic earthquakes.
Gerardo Suárez of the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and Virginia García-Acosta of the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social studied pictograms reporting 12 earthquakes within the Telleriano-Remensis, occurring between 1460 and 1542.
The pictograms provide little info on the placement, measurement or harm brought on by the earthquakes, the authors be aware within the journal Seismological Analysis Letters. However together with different historic accounts present in annals written after the Spanish conquest, they lengthen the area’s seismic historical past again into the 15th century.
“It’s not stunning that pre Hispanic data exist describing earthquakes for 2 causes,” stated Suárez. “Earthquakes are frequent on this nation and, secondly, earthquakes had a profound which means within the cosmological view of the unique inhabitants of what’s now Mexico.”
Mesoamerican civilizations seen the universe as cyclical, with successive eras or “suns” destroyed by floods, wind, fireplace and different phenomena earlier than the looks of a brand new solar. The present and fifth “solar, “in accordance with this view, will probably be destroyed by earthquakes.
Suárez and García-Acosta started finding out historic earthquakes in Mexico after the devastating magnitude 8.0 Mexico Metropolis earthquake in 1985, finally publishing their findings within the e-book Los sismos en la historia de México. “Nonetheless, we had not tackled the pictographic illustration of earthquakes,” stated Suárez. “We not too long ago launched into a extra detailed research of this pictographic illustration and different texts written instantly after the Spanish conquest.”
Codex writing, a pre-Hispanic system of symbols and colours, was finished by skilled specialists referred to as tlacuilos (within the authentic Nahuatl language, “those that write portray”). Whereas many codices had been burned as pagan objects after the Spanish conquest, some survived and the pictographic type was utilized in new codices up into the 18th century.
The Codex Telleriano-Remensis is written on European paper, with explanations or “glosses” written in Latin, Spanish and generally Italian by later commentators alongside the symbols.
Earthquakes, referred to as tlalollin within the Nahuatl language, are represented by two indicators: ollin (motion) and tlalli (earth). Ollin is a glyph consisting of 4 helices and a central eye or circle. Tlalli is a glyph consisting of 1 or a number of layers full of dots and completely different colours.
Within the Telleriano-Remensis, there are different modifications of the earthquake glyphs, however their meanings should not clear to students. “Nonetheless, the consensus is that the varied representations in all probability do have a which means,” Suárez stated. “Drawing codices was a strict self-discipline not open to inventive whims of the individuals skilled to do it, the tlacuilos. We’re hopeful that sooner or later an unknown codex or doc could seem that will enlighten us on this respect.”
Suárez and García-Acosta be aware that different annals provide info that enhances the codex earthquake drawings, maybe filling in additional particulars in regards to the impacts and areas of particular earthquakes. For instance, a historic account by the Franciscan friar Juan de Torquemada describes a 1496 earthquake that shook three mountains in “Xochitepec province, alongside the coast” and precipitated landslides in an space inhabited by the Yope individuals.
The location is inside the Guerrero seismic hole, a area of relative seismic quiet alongside the subduction zone in southern Mexico. The historic descriptions counsel that the 1496 earthquake may need been a really massive earthquake of magnitude 8.0 or bigger inside the hole. There have been no recorded earthquakes of that magnitude within the hole since 1845.
The historic proof “actually doesn’t change our view of the seismic potential of that area in southern Mexico,” Suárez defined. “It merely provides extra proof that nice earthquakes have occurred on this phase of the subduction zone earlier than, and the absence of those main earthquakes for a number of years shouldn’t be thought-about as if this area is aseismic.”
The researchers plan to review different codices that aren’t as well-known because the Telleriano-Remensis, however have to this point been unable to entry the libraries that maintain them resulting from COVID-19 restrictions.