Leopoldo Batres

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Leopoldo Batres (Ciudad de México, 1852–1926) was a pioneer of the archaeology of Mexico. He worked as an anthropologist and archaeologist for the Museo Nacional de Antropología between 1884 and 1888, beginning his excavations at Teotihuacan, working on the Temple of Agriculture and the Pyramid of the Moon. Later he worked at Monte Albán, Mitla, La Quemada, Xochicalco, Isla de los Sacrificios, Mexico City, and more work at Teotihuacan, including his flawed reconstruction of the Pyramid of the Sun.

Batres claimed distinguished ancestry, and his father, Salvador Batres was a consul in Germany for President Antonio López de Santa Anna. According to Batres's autobiography, his mother, Francisca Huerta, encouraged his patriotism. Batres joined the Mexican army and was a cavalry officer. In the early 1880s, during the first years of the regime of former army general Porfirio Díaz, Batres went to Paris and studied archeology at the Museum of Natural History under Ernest Théodore Hamy and Armand de Quatrefages, but nothing is known about the nature of his training.[1]

Batres created the first archeological maps of Mexico, one of which was aimed at the 1910 delegates of the International Congress of Americanists, which met in Mexico to coincide with the centenary of Mexican independence. The marking of 110 archeological sites was superimposed on a map of Mexican railway lines. One scholar views the map as highly symbolic, "The ruins of antiquity and train tracks of modernity act like joined metaphors, making reference to the past and present and conveying that Mexico is a nation both ancient and modern."[2]

Graham Hancock has called Bartres's restoration of the Pyramid of the Sun at Teotihuacan "grotesque vandalism", citing the removal and selling of a layer of sheet mica between two of the upper levels—mined from 2,000 miles away and used for unknown purpose—removing the outer layer to a depth of more than 20 feet, and adding a fifth stage. Hancock argues that because scientific data might have been incorporated into many of the key dimensions, drastically distorting the original shape and size of the pyramid had possibly deprived posterity of some of the most important lessons Teotihuacan had to teach.[3]

Major publications[edit]

  • Antigüedades mejicanas: Falsificación y falsificadores. (1910)
  • Arqueología mexicana: Civilización de algunas de las diferentes tribus que habitaron el territorio, hoy mexicano, en la antigüedad. (1888, 1891)
  • Cartilla histórica de la ciudad de México. (1893)
  • Cuadro arqueológico y etnográfico de la República Mexicana (1885),
  • La piedra del agua (1888),
  • Excavaciones en la calle de las Escalerillas (1902),
  • Exploraciones de Monte Albán (1902),
  • Exploraciones en Huexotla, Texcoco (1904)
  • El Gavilán, México (1904),
  • La lápida arqueológica de Tepatlaxco (1905),
  • Teotihuacan (1906).

Further reading[edit]

  • Batres, Leopoldo. "Visit to the Archeological Remains of La Quemada, Zacatecas, Mexico" in The North American Frontier, edited by Basil C. Hedrick, J. Charles Kelley, and Carroll L. Riley, 1-20. Carbondale: Southern Illinois University Press 1971.
  • Bueno, Christina. The Pursuit of Ruins: Archeology, History, and the Making of Modern Mexico. Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2016.
  • Morales Moreno, Luis Gerardo. Orígenes de la museología mexicana: Fuentes para el estudio histórico del Museo Nacional, 1780-1940. Mexico City: Universidad Iberoamericana 1994.


  1. ^ Christina Bueno, The Pursuit of Ruins: Archeology, History, and the Making of Modern Mexico, 2016, p. 73, ISBN 0826357318
  2. ^ Christina Bueno, The Pursuit of Ruins . Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press 2016, p. 191.
  3. ^ Hancock, Graham (1995). Fingerprints of the Gods. Three Rivers Press. pp. 174–177.