An upcoming lecture at Sewanee on September 26:
This presentation will describe the role of artists in ancient Mexico from the earliest known societies to the sumptuous courtly arts of thriving city-states such as those of the Maya and the Aztec. Archaeologists see only traces of most ancient villages that were teeming with life across the landscape from the second millennium BC until the arrival of the Spanish in the early 16th century. In Mexico, such communities, and the households within them, were the basic threads of the social fabric. Ancient Mexican rulers leaders sought to coopt this essential “spirit” of the community through artwork: by harnessing the symbolism encoded in fundamental themes such as ancestral couples, sacrifice, and the mythology surrounding maize agriculture. To maintain their political power, leaders adorned their bodies with luxurious materials and commissioned elaborate works of art to take with them into the afterlife.