The Ancient Hydraulic Catchment Systems of the Tepeaca-Acatzingo Archaeological Zone, Puebla, Mexico

Authored by: Miguel Medina Jaen , Norma G. Peñaflores Ramírez , Jay E. Silverstein

Underground Aqueducts Handbook

Print publication date:  November  2016
Online publication date:  November  2016

Print ISBN: 9781498748308
eBook ISBN: 9781315368566
Adobe ISBN:


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The area between the modern cities of Tepeaca and Acatzingo contains numerous filtration galleries (galerías filtrantes) that are generally believed to have been constructed between the Spanish conquest of Mexico in the sixteenth century and the first half of the twentieth century. However, important pre-Hispanic population centers in the same area also developed systems for the collection of water by exploiting the hydrographic properties of the sedimentary geology of the region. The continuity and periodization of elaboration of water collection systems in this area, which had their origin in prehistoric times and which climaxed with the post-conquest construction of extensive networks of galerías filtrantes, is poorly understood. Within a historic and hydrographic context, we examine the details of the use of pre-Hispanic hydraulic system and their relation to the later galerías filtrantes in the Tepeaca-Acatzingo region**

In the study area the galerías filtrantes are tunnels and trenches dug in the ground for the extraction of infiltration groundwater from both rain and fluvial origin as well as those waters accessible from certain springs or aquifers. Through these tunnels, groundwater is captured and taken to the surface, where it is stored or taken to the fields through canals. Their main purpose is to provide water for irrigation and to a lesser extent for domestic consumption of the populations in this humid environment where the bodies of surface water are scarce limiting its direct exploitation due to rapid infiltration into the subsoil. For more details, see Seele (1969, 1973, 1979), Cleek (1973), Monterrosa (1976), Palerm-Viqueira (2002, 2004), Hernández-Garciadiego and Herrerías Guerra (2004), Martínez-Saldaña et al. (2005), and Enciso (2007), Montes-Hernández et al. (2011).

(Figure 28.1).

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