About this project

Digging into Early Colonial Mexico (DECM) is a project funded by the Transatlantic Platform of Social Sciences and the Humanities through three research councils: ESRC-UK, FTP-Portugal, and CONACyT-Mexico. It includes the participation of archaeologists, historians, geographers, and computer scientists, based at Lancaster University (UK), INESC-ID-University of Lisbon (Portugal), and the National Institute of Anthropology and History (Mexico).

This project had two main objectives: (a) answering important historical questions related to the process of the colonisation of New Spain; and (b) advancing the processing and analysis of historical sources by bringing together theories, methodologies and techniques from the Humanities and a range of data-driven sciences. The resource presented here is only one of many, and you can download other resources including the gazetteer in GIS format and other outputs from our DECM GitHub repository. Other resources are listed below.

The DECM historical gazetteer can be thought of as a geographic dictionary, where the main components are toponyms and their corresponding coordinates. While the concept behind is simple, the problems of creating historical gazetteers are well known. Historical geography in Mexico is a well-researched subject, and some atlases have been created for the colonial period. Nevertheless, there has never been an attempt to create a fully dedicated sixteenth-century gazetteer of the whole country. To do so, our project took geographic information from primary and secondary sources and carried out dedicated research to find and clarify historical details of thousands of toponyms.

The team recorded all the processes, methods, and decisions taken. All the details explaining data sources, data and metadata creation, the process of disambiguation, data integration, results, and lessons learnt can be consulted in the white paper “The creation of the DECM historical gazetteer”. More information on this and the project can be also consulted in our publications listed below.


Murrieta-Flores, P., Fávila-Vazquez, M., and Flores-Morán, A., (2021-In Press) Indigenous Deep Mapping: A conceptual and representational analysis of space in Mesoamerica and New Spain. In Bodenhammer, D., Corrigan, J., and Harris (Eds.), Making Deep Maps: Foundations, Approaches, and Methods. London: Routledge.

Favila-Vázquez, M.; Liceras-Garrido, R.; Murrieta-Flores, P.; and Bellamy, K. (2021-In press): De cosmógrafos reales a cartógrafas digitales: construyendo un diccionario geográfico digital de la Nueva España. In Armando Trujillo (ed.) Sistemas de información geográfica para arqueólogos: Repensando el espacio en contextos arqueológicos mesoamericanos. México: El Colegio Mexiquense. London: Routledge.

Murrieta-Flores, P., Jiménez-Badillo, D., and Martins, B. (2021 -Accepted) Artificial Intelligence and Computational Approaches to Investigate the History of Early Colonial Mexico. Oxford Research Encyclopaedia of Latin American History.

Murrieta-Flores, P., Jiménez-Badillo, D. Bruno Martins, B., Gregory, I., Favila-Vázquez, M., Liceras-Garrido, R., & Bellamy, K. (2021 -In press). Explorando el México Colonial Temprano. Un análisis de textos históricos mediante la aplicación de lingüística computacional y sistemas de información geográfica. En D. Jiménez-Badillo (Ed.), Métodos computacionales y técnicas digitales para analizar y divulgar el patrimonio cultural. México: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia.

Jiménez-Badillo, D., Murrieta-Flores, P., Martins, B., Gregory, I., Favila-Vázquez, M., and Liceras-Garrido, R. (2020) Developing Geographically Oriented NLP Approaches to Sixteenth–Century Historical Documents: Digging into Early Colonial Mexico. Digital Humanities Quarterly, 14 (1).

Liceras-Garrido R., Favila-Vázquez, M., Bellamy, K., Murrieta-Flores P., Jiménez-Badillo, D., and Martins, B. (2019) ‘Digital Approaches to Historical Archaeology: Exploring the Geographies of 16th Century New Spain’. Open Access J Arch & Anthropol, 2(1) DOI: 10.33552/OAJAA.2019.02.000526

Murrieta-Flores, P., Favila-Vázquez, M., and Flores-Morán, A. (2019) ‘Spatial Humanities 3.0: QSR and Semantic Triples as New Means of Exploration of Complex Indigenous Spatial Representations in Sixteenth Century Early Colonial Mexican Maps’. International Journal of Humanities and Arts Computing 13 (1–2): 53–68. https://doi.org/10.3366/ijhac.2019.0231.

Murrieta-Flores, P., and Martins, B. (2019) The Geospatial Humanities: past, present and future. International Journal of Geographic Information Sciences, 32 (12). DOI: 10.1080/13658816.2019.1645336

Murrieta-Flores, P., and Bellamy, K. (2019) Annotating 16th century Mexican historical maps with Recogito. EuropeanaTech Insight, Europeana Foundation, Issue 12 (Pelagios). https://pro.europeana.eu/page/issue-12-pelagios#annotating-16th-century-mexican-historicalmaps-with-recogito