The Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca was created at a pivotal transitional moment, bridging an era when pictorial manuscripts dominated and one that witnessed the rising hegemony of alphabetic texts. The Historia was composed using both systems, yet, as Dana Leibsohn notes, neither was fully trusted. Leibsohn analyzes the choices made by the patron, don Alonso de Castañeda, and tlacuilos enlisted to create the manuscript. How does one create a history? Which narratives are included, and which are strikingly absent? Which modes of representation are called upon to convey certain types of information? Leibsohn argues how the very practice of history-keeping itself sustains or challenges a current reality.
Central to the Historia Tolteca-Chichimeca is the creation, representation, and understanding of landscape. In the recording of ancestral migrations, don Alonso delineates territory, noting boundaries and their histories, and also reveals relationships with a sacred landscape, detailing how relationships with territory were constantly re-inscribed. In this sense, Script and Glyph is a particularly appropriate volume for Dumbarton Oaks, as it crosses the boundaries of Pre-Columbian and Landscape areas of study. The volume is beautifully illustrated with color images from the manuscript itself.