In 1885 Don Antonio Peñafiel published his "Nombres Geográficos de México," an annotated listing of all the place name glyphs included in the Matricula de Tributos and the Codex Mendocino. The book includes an Atlas with 39 colored plates and a total of 462 glyphs. "Nombres Geográficos" has of course been out of print for many years now, however, during a visit to Mexico City in the spring of 1998, I was fortunate enough to find a copy for sale in a second hand book store. This lucky find has motivated me to make the glyphs and the text available to a wider audience.
The notes that accompany each place name glyph are simply transcribed from the original spanish text, as I have not yet had time to make an english translation. Additional notes regarding new interpretations of the glyphs are also projected for the future.
The Place Name Glyphs
We know the location of most of the places included in the Matrícula de Tributos and Codex Mendoza thanks largely to the research of Robert Barlow, an anthropologist who studied with Alfred Kroeber and Carl Sauer at the University of California, Berkeley in the 1940's.
The clickable map in the geographic index section is based upon the map in Barlow's monograph "The Extent of the Empire of the Culhua Mexica" (Barlow, 1949). Barlow disliked the term "Aztec Empire." The Empire was the product of military expansion by three tribes from the Valley of Mexico: the Tepenaca, the Acolhuaque, and the Mexica, whose capitals were Tlacopan (Tacubaya), Texcoco, and Tenochtitlan, respectively. When the Spanish arrived in 1519 the dominant group in the Triple Alliance was the Mexica. The Mexica, however, often referred to themseves as the Culhua Mexica, to reflect an earlier alliance they had had with the Culhua, another tribe in the Valley of Mexico. Culhuacan, their capital, is located just south of Tenochtitlan near Lake Xochimilco.
Unfortunately, in spite of Barlow's efforts, the term "aztec" is still widely used, even though the Culhua Mexica never referred to themselves as Aztecs. A more appropriate name for the empire would be the Mexican Empire, i.e., the Empire of the Mexica.
Barlow did most of the research for the monograph during the period March through December of 1943, at which time he was a graduate student in Anthropology at the University of California, Berkeley. He was only 25 years old at the time.
Barlow's main aim in the monograph was to define the geographical extent of the Empire as it was when the Spanish arrived in 1519. He saw this as a preliminary effort to be followed by another work in which he would detail the history of the Empire. His primary sources were the Matrícula de Tributos and the Codex Mendoza. Barlow's map represents the result of his efforts to locate places mentioned in the Matricula and Codex on modern maps of Mexico. It can therefore be directly connected with the place name glyphs reproduced by Peñafiel.
Because of the geographical organization of the Matrícula and Codex, Barlow was able to identify 38 Tributary Provinces. The clickable map leads to more detailed maps of the 38 Provinces. Each detailed map is also accompanied by Barlow's listing of the Mendoza place names and, where identifiable, their modern equivalents.
It should be noted, however, that in defining the extent of the Empire Barlow used more than the Matrícula de Tributos and the Codex Mendoza. He also made extensive use of 16th century Relaciones Geográficos and other primary and secondary sources. His research shows clearly that the Matricula and Codex were not an exhaustive listing of places paying tribute to the Empire. These tributaries are shown on the maps and tables that follow but are obviously not linked to the Mendoza place name glyphs.
The actual significance of Barlow's provinces has recently been questioned by several scholars (Berdan 19..; ). However, these questions in no way undermine the usefulness of Barlow's map as means of locating the place name glyphs in the Matrícula and the Codex Mendoza.