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Humboldt in Mexico

Alexander von Humboldt set sail for the Americas from the Spanish port of La Coruña on June 5, 1799 (see Humboldt’s transatlantic itinerary). His visit to Mexico—then the Kingdom or Viceroyalty of New Spain—lasted for nearly an entire year, from March 22, 1803, when he arrived at the port of Acapulco, to March 7, 1804. From Acapulco, Humboldt traveled overland to Mexico City, built on the ruins of the Aztec city Tenochtitlan, from where he embarked on numerous expeditions to the colony’s different regions. He was especially interested in its mining regions. During his inland excursions, Humboldt spent much time studying the working conditions of miners, most of whom were descended from the ancient Mexica, the same pre-Columbian peoples whose languages and cultures he researched in the archives of New Spain. This research became the foundation for two major works: his Views of the Cordilleras and of Monuments of the Indigenous Peoples of the Americas and his Political Essay on the Kingdom of New Spain.


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