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Jose Antonio Alzate

Priest (1738-1799)

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Alzate, JOSE ANTONIO, b. at Ozumba, Mexico, in 1738; d. in 1799. Alzate, who was a priest, was one of the most zealous students of liberal sciences in New Spain in the seventeenth century. More than thirty treatises on various subjects are due to his pen. Astronomy, physics, meteorology, antiquities, metallurgy, were among the topics on which he wrote, but he also devoted serious attention to certain branches of industry. Thus the growing of silk in Mexico was the subject of several of his papers. He wrote a dissertation on the use of ammonia in combating mephitic gases in abandoned mines, and also prepared maps of New Spain (Mexico). He was frequently opposed, even reviled, at home, but the French Academy of Sciences made him a corresponding member, and the viceroys of Mexico and the archbishops entrusted him with sundry scientific missions. In 1768 he began the publication, at Mexico, of a newspaper, the “Diario literario de Mexico“. His description of the ruins of Xochicalco is the first notice published of these interesting ruins. He also wrote a commentary upon the work of Clavigero on aboriginal Mexico and the natural history of that country.

AD F. BANDELIER


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