Aztec Sacrifice: Repayment to the Gods for Continued Prosperity

An Aztec ceremonial knife with a cedarwood handle and flint blade. The figure of the handle is covered in turquoise and shell mosiac and represents an Aztec Eagle knight. 1400-1521 CE. (British Museum, London) / British Museum The highest possible honor to the gods regarded as a necessity to ensure humanity’s continued prosperity. By Mark Cartwright / 05.03.2018[…]

From Alteptl to Empire: Aztec Civilization

A map indicating the maximum extent of the Aztec civilization which flourished between c. 1345 and 1521 CE in what is now Mexico. The three major cities which formed the Aztec Triple Alliance were Tenochtitlan, Texcoco and Tlacopan. / Image by El Comandante, Wikimedia Commons Tenochtitlan came to dominate an Alliance of city-states, its ruler became the supreme ruler – the huey tlatoque (‘high king’) –[…]

Teotihuacan: Golden Age Metropolis of Ancient Mexico

Teotihuacan, 300 BCE Teotihuacan, located in the Basin of Central Mexico, was the largest, most influential, and certainly most revered city in the history of the New World, and it flourished in Mesoamerica’s Golden Age. By Mark Cartwright / 02.17.2015 Historian Teotihuacan, located in the Basin of Central Mexico, was the largest, most influential, and certainly most[…]

The Olmec Engima: An Ancient Mexican Civilization

A mask of jadeite from the Olmec civilization of the Gulf coast, Mesoamerica, 900-500 BCE. Provenance: Rio Pesquero, Mexico. / Photo by Mary Harrsch, Flickr, Dallas Museum of Art The Olmec civilization presents something of a mystery, indeed, we do not even know what they called themselves. By Mark Cartwright / 04.04.2018 Historian The mysterious Olmec civilization, located[…]

Native American Art and Architecture before 1300 CE

Basketry bowl with checkerboard and arrow head motif / Mint Museum Edited by Matthew A. McIntosh / 04.25.2018 Historian Brewminate Editor-in-Chief 1 – The New World 1.1 – Introduction Indigenous visual arts traditions in the Americas span thousands of years, representing cultures from Mesoamerica to the Arctic. The New World refers to the western hemisphere,[…]

Where Is Yucatan? Julius Shulman at Chichen Itza in 1956

One of Julius Shulman’s views of Chichen Itza with a Chac Mool in the foreground. Julius Shulman photography archive. The Getty Research Institute, 2004.R.10 The power of the modern Californian lifestyle to assimilate difference By Dr. Robert J. Kett / 01.12.2015 Emerging Curator, Canadian Centre for Architecture and Curatorial Assistant of Architecture + Design San[…]

Hurtling Back through Time – Harvard Wintersession Course and the Atlatl (Spear Thrower)

During Wintersession, students learn to make and use the technology that revolutionized human life. The atlatl, or spear-thrower, is a 10,000-year-old tool developed independently across the globe by cultures from the Arctic to New Zealand. The workshop takes place in the Peabody Museum at Harvard University. Andrew Majewski (pictured), the workshop instructor, demonstrates how to[…]

What do “Pre-Columbian” and “Mesoamerica” Mean?

The routes of the four Voyages of Christopher Columbus, 1492-1504 to the Caribbean Islands and the coast of Central America (image: CC BY-SA 3.0) By Dr. Maya Jiménez / 08.19.2016 Adjunct Assistant Professor of Art History Borough of Manhattan Community College What does “pre-Columbian” mean? The original inhabitants of the Americas traveled across what is now known as the Bering Strait,[…]

Brief Encounters with Jean-Frédéric Maximilien de Waldeck

Engraving by Jean-Frédéric de Waldeck, featured in Monuments anciens du Mexique. Palenqué et autres ruines de l’ancienne civilisation du Mexique (1866). Note the lions, not known for their presence in the pre-Columbian Americas  / National Library of France Not a lot concerning the artist, erotic publisher, explorer, and general enigma Count de Waldeck can be taken at[…]

Introduction to Andean Cultures

Inka ruins, Písac, Peru (photo: Chensiyuan, CC BY-SA 3.0) By Dr. Sarahh Scher / 10.06.2017 Visiting Lecturer in Art History Salem State University A land of contrasts “The Andes” can refer to the mountain range that stretches along the west coast of South America, but is also used to refer to a broader geographic area that includes the[…]

Mesoamerica: An Introduction

Map of Mesoamerica, with the borders of modern countries By Dr. Lauren Kilroy-Ewbank / 09.12.2017 Assistant Professor of Art History Pepperdine University Avocado, tomato, and chocolate. You are likely familiar with at least some of these food items. Did you know that they all originally come from Mexico, and are all based on Nahuatl words (ahuacatl, tomatl, and chocolatl)[…]

Introduction to the Inka

Along the Inka road system or Qhapaq Ñan today, Pucará del Aconquija, Argentina (photo: Ministerio de Cultura de la Nación Argentina, CC BY-SA 2.0) By Dr. Sarahh Scher / 09.15.2017 Visiting Lecturer in Art History Salem State University An Empire of Roads—and Cords Map of the Qhapaq Ñan (Inka road system) (map: Manco Capac, CC BY-SA 3.0)[…]