Decoding Road Networks into Ancient Routes: The Case of the Aztec Empire in Mexico
Historical evidence in some regions of Latin America has suggested that the system of ancient routes between places could have determined the success or collapse of prehistoric societies. The identification of such routes provided essential information to understand initial conditions in the evolution of the actual road infrastructure. Looking into the increasing technology applied to generate and process geospatial information, we proposed a retrospective spatial analysis for discovering a large-scale network of ancient routes before the conquest of Aztecs by the Spanish around 1520 CE. Such a method consisted in analyzing existing road networks (highways) that connect a system of cities (continuously built-up areas) to deduce routes by using geoprocessing methods, network analysis, and historical evidence. The results of this research support the idea that the retrospective method may be applied to other cases to decipher and to understand initial conditions in the evolution of road infrastructures by combining different types of data and scientific fields.
KeywordsRoad networks ancient routes Aztec Empire geoprocessing methods complex network measures historical evidence
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