Parution : Heaven and earth in ancient Mexico : astronomy and seasonal cycles in the Codex Borgia

Heaven and earth in ancient Mexico


Milbrath, Susan (1945-….)

Susan Milbrath is Curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History and Affiliate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida. She also authored Star Gods of the Maya: Astronomy in Art, Folklore, and Calendars.

Résumé de l’éditeur

The Codex Borgia, a masterpiece that predates the Spanish conquest of central Mexico, records almanacs used in divination and astronomy. Within its beautifully painted screenfold pages is a section (pages 29–46) that shows a sequence of enigmatic pictures that have been the subject of debate for more than a century. Bringing insights from ethnohistory, anthropology, art history, and archaeoastronomy to bear on this passage, Susan Milbrath presents a convincing new interpretation of Borgia 29–46 as a narrative of noteworthy astronomical events that occurred over the course of the year AD 1495–1496, set in the context of the central Mexican festival calendar.

In contrast to scholars who have interpreted Borgia 29–46 as a mythic history of the heavens and the earth, Milbrath demonstrates that the narrative documents ancient Mesoamericans’ understanding of real-time astronomy and natural history. Interpreting the screenfold’s complex symbols in light of known astronomical events, she finds that Borgia 29–46 records such phenomena as a total solar eclipse in August 1496, a November meteor shower, a comet first sighted in February 1496, and the changing phases of Venus and Mercury. She also shows how the narrative is organized according to the eighteen-month festival calendar and how seasonal cycles in nature are represented in its imagery. This new understanding of the content and purpose of the Codex Borgia reveals this long-misunderstood narrative as the most important historical record of central Mexican astronomy on the eve of the Spanish conquest.


  • List of Illustrations and Tables
  • Preface
  1. Context and Calendars in the Codex Borgia
  2. Seasonal Veintena Festivals in Central Mexico
  3. The Sun, the Moon, and Eclipses in the Borgia Group
  4. Planetary Events in the Codex Borgia
  5. Astronomy and Natural History in the Codex Borgia
  • Notes
  • Glossary
  • Bibliography
  • Index

Informations pratiques

  • Éditeur : Austin : University of Texas Press
  • Date de parution : 2013
  • Description matérielle : 1 vol. (XIV-174 p., 18, 16 p. de pl.) : ill. ; 29 cm.
  • Collection : (The Linda Schele series in Maya and Pre-Columbian studies)
  • ISBN 978-0-292-74373-1 (rel.)


  • PARIS-BnF :
    – Tolbiac – Rez-de-jardin – magasin : 2013-351539
    – Richelieu – Manuscrits – magasin : 4-IMPR OR-9066
  • MADRID-Casa de Velázquez
  • PARIS-Médiathèque MQB
  • PARIS-Observatoire

Citer ce billet
Olivier Jacquot (2020, 20 janvier). Parution : Heaven and earth in ancient Mexico : astronomy and seasonal cycles in the Codex Borgia. Amoxcalli. Consulté le 28 mai 2024, à l’adresse

Olivier Jacquot

Chargé de collections : manuscrits des fonds américains, Service des manuscrits ORientaux (SOR), département des Manuscrits (MSS), Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)

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