Wednesday, April 21, 2010

News in the Pre-Columbian World

1. Sex, Death and Sacrifice in the Mochica Religion at the Musee du Quay Branly
PARIS.- For the very first time in Europe, the exhibition "Sex, death and sacrifice in the Mochica religion" puts together 134 Mochica ceramics depicting sexual or sacrificial acts with a surprising level of realism. These potteries reveal to us the link that the Mochica people had established between religion, power, sexuality and death. This amazing religious iconography, which is a meeting of the sexual act and the sacred, is unique in Precolumbian art and specific to Mochica mythology. It represents sacrificial acts but predominantly of a sexual nature between animals and/or anthropomorphous figures. The Mochica craftsmen have moulded these non reproductive rites into their pottery, making the stylized sexual attributes the central themes of an iconography for ritual purposes whose boldness is as pronounced as the strength of their beliefs. Steve Bourget proposes keys for interpreting this sexual imagery which is not linked to the daily life of the Moche, but refers to a po ... More

2. New Haven, Conn. — Yale College Dean Mary Miller, a leading authority on Mesoamerican art, will present the 59th A. W. Mellon Lectures in the Fine Arts series this spring at the National Gallery of Art in Washington, D.C.
Titled “Art and Representation in the Ancient New World,” the series will include the following lectures: April 18, “The Shifting Now of the Pre-Columbian Past”; April 25, “Seeing Time, Hearing Time, Placing Time”; May 2, “The Body of Perfection, the Perfection of the Body”; May 9, “Representation and Imitation”; May 16, “Envisioning a New World.”
According to the announcement issued by the National Gallery of Art, the lectures will examine the evolution of the field of Pre-Columbian art over the past four decades. Miller has explained that the series illuminates “an expanding universe: the black hole of Pre-Columbian art…what it means for those who try to study it,” and how Pre-Columbian works can compel us to understand principles that transcend cultural boundaries.
3. Maya Site Inhabitants Manufactured Weapons and Tools
MEXICO CITY.- Specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) explore in Tenosique, Tabasco, an archaeological site of Maya affiliation dedicated exclusively to manufacture weapons and tools. San Claudio “was occupied from 200 BC to 900 AD by Maya workers at the service of other community of higher hierarchy”, informed archaeologist Jose Luis Romero Rivera, director of the excavation project at the site. Located in the contact region between Chiapas Mountain Range and Guatemala, this site accounts for quotidian life of ancient Maya population dedicated to weapons and tools manufacture, which were commercialized with other towns. “One of the main activities at the site was flint exploitation; we have found a great amount of this mineral debris all over the place. Due to its relatively easy manipulation, it was used to create sharp tools such as knives, axes and arrowheads”. Flint ... More
4. Teotihuacan Mural Paintings Recover Splendor
MEXICO CITY.- Several Prehispanic mural paintings at Tetitla Palace, in Teotihuacan Archaeological Zone are fully restored after 2 years of work conducted by specialists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). Among the paintings created between 600 and 700 AD, outstand Las Aguilas (The Eagles), Diosas verdes (Green Goddesses), Caballero Jaguar,(Jaguar Warrior), Jaguares anaranjados (Orange Jaguars), Manos (Hands), Aves con conchas (Birds with Shells) and Los Buzos (The Divers). Jaime Cama Villafranca, expert from the National School of Conservation, Restoration and Museography (ENCRyM) directed the intervention. He informed that work concentrated in 8 of the 16 paintings, those that presented more damage due to sun, wind, dust, humidity and time. “Intervention began in September 2007, conducting scientific research and taking pigment samples to be analyzed with ultraviolet technology, which allow ... More
5. Teotihuacan Lineage at Tikal Studied
MEXICO CITY.- Iconographic studies of Teotihuacan murals confirm the extension of the lineage of a ruler of the ancient city of Tikal, Guatemala, already revealed by epigraphists of the Maya area. The aforementioned investigation sums up to interpretations of Stele 31 of Tikal that relate to the dynastic line of Atlatl-Cauac (“Dart-thrower Owl”), possible ruler of Teotihuacan between 374 and 439 AD, and whose son, Yax Nuun Ayiin I, was seignior of Tikal. The emblem of this lineage would be represented by the image of a bird with a shield, observed in Teotihuacan murals, declared Dr. Raul Garcia Chavez, researcher at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). There would be a relation between the register at Tikal and other Maya sites of late 4th century, which refers to the son of Atlatl-Cauac, Yax Nuun Ayiin I, as ruler of Tikal between 379 and 404 AD, commented the researcher during his participation ... More

6. MEXICO CITY.- Interest in deciphering the sky, practiced during Prehispanic ages, is been retaken in 21st century at the Noche de Observacion Astronomica en Sitios Arqueologicos (Night of Astronomical Observation at Archaeological Sites), which first event took place in Tamtoc, San Luis Potosi in March 20th 2010. Considered the capital city of Huasteca Prehispanic culture, Tamtoc was an important sky observation point, being Huasteca world view closely linked to star movements. Centuries after, the interest of watching the sky and the path followed by stars is still present. At the night of astronomical observation organized by the Archaeology Coordination of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), hundreds of persons were able to do as their ancestors and watch the firmament. From 19:00 hours, visitors were allowed into the archaeological zone main square to take part in the activity guided by archaeologists Guillermo Cordova Tello and Estela Martinez Mora ... More

7. Peabody Essex Museum Opens Maya Exhibition
SALEM, MA.- Integrated by masterworks of Maya Art, the exhibition Fiery Pool: the Maya and the Mythic Sea was inaugurated at Peabody Essex Museum, in Salem, Massachusetts, United States. The showcase based on new interpretations regarding the relevance of the ocean for the Prehispanic civilization, will be open from March 27th to July 18th 2010. The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) lent 22 pieces lodged at the National Museum of Anthropology (MNA); Yucatan Regional Museum “Palacio Canton”; Tabasco Regional Museum “Carlos Pellicer Camara” and Comalcalco Archaeological Site Museum, in Tabasco, and from the Museum of Maya Architecture and Museum of Archaeology, both in Campeche. Surrounded by sea, Maya people considered water was the source of life. Almost 100 objects, many of them never exhibited in the United States, represent the influence of water in Maya cosmology, its role in their supern ... More
8. MALIBU, CA.- The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire, integrated by some of the most emblematic pieces of this Prehispanic culture was opened in The Getty Villa in Malibu, California, United States. The exhibition is sponsored by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and J. Paul Getty Museum and will be open from March 24th to July 5th, 2010. Objects exhibited come from the collections of the National Museum of Anthropology, Templo Mayor Museum and J. Paul Getty Museum. Codices, sculptures, books, maps and other documents are displayed. The official inauguration was attended by Juan Marcos Gutierrez, Consul General of Mexico in Los Angeles, David Bomford, Director of Collections of the J. Paul Getty Museum and Alfonso de Maria y Campos, General Director of INAH. Among the 96 pieces lent by Mexico, stand out the diorite Coyolxauhqui head; an incense burner dedicated to Chicomecoatl; the Eagle ... More

9. Chinesca Culture Offering Found in Tepic
MEXICO CITY.- A funerary offering of Chinesca culture integrated by 8 ceramic pieces created between 200 BC and 400 AD was found in Tepic municipality, at Nayarit Mexican state. This is the first conjunct of Chinesca objects located in their original place in all Western Mexico. Six anthropomorphic figures and 2 vessels were found; based on the way they were placed, a reduced space in a half-moon shape, it can be deduced it was part of a shaft tomb. For the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) specialists, the finding represents an exceptional opportunity to explore shaft tombs of Chinesca affiliation, since these contexts had not been analyzed in situ before. The distinctive characteristics of Chinesca culture are the oriental features of the figure faces, as well as its pottery, which present a buff colored coating and with fine black and red lines. Armando Santa Cruz Ruiz, director of Nayarit INAH Center, ... More
10. MACHU PICCHU (AP).- The famed Inca citadel of Machu Picchu reopened to tourists Thursday after a two-month closure due to floods that washed out the rail link to the mountaintop ruins. Actress Susan Sarandon was on hand for an ancient ceremony asking for the blessing of mother Earth and other rituals, including the sounding of an Incan welcoming trumpet. Sarandon posed for photos with young girls wearing traditional Andean dress, and sipped coca tea that many locals use to ward off the effects of altitude at nearly 8,000 feet (2,440 meters) above sea level. Tourism Vice Minister Mara Seminario said hundreds of foreign visitors entered the ruins following the morning reopening, as an early downpour gave way to a brilliant sun. Peru's No. 1 tourist site had been shut down since late January, when heavy rains disrupted the rail link from the city of Cuzco and trapped some 4,000 tourists, many ... More

11. NEW HAVEN, CT.- Peru has voluntarily agreed to withdraw fraud and conspiracy allegations it made against Yale University in a lawsuit seeking the return of Inca artifacts removed from Machu Picchu nearly a century ago. The South American nation recently filed papers in federal court dismissing six of 17 counts from its lawsuit. Peru sued in 2008, demanding Yale return artifacts taken by scholar Hiram Bingham III between 1911 and 1915. The Machu Picchu ruins, perched in the clouds at 8,000 feet above sea level on an Andean mountaintop, are Peru's main tourist attraction. The complex of stone buildings was built in the 1400s by the Inca empire that ruled Peru before the arrival of the Spaniards in the 16th century. The withdrawal of some claims comes after ... More
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