753 - The Stone Masks of Teotihuacan, Mexico: Archaeological, Historical and Social Contexts

17.07.2012 | 08:00 - 13:30

Coordenator 1: Robb, Matthew (Saint Louis Art Museum , Saint Louis, Ud States of Am / USA)
Coordenator 2: Scott, Sue (non, Tuscaloosa, Ud States of Am / USA)

From 200-650 CE, Teotihuacan dominated the cultural landscape of ancient Mesoamerica. Located some 50 kilometers northeast of modern Mexico City, the great metropolis was by far the largest city of its epoch, with an estimated population of 125,000, massive pyramids, and urban infrastructure par excellence. This interdisciplinary panel's objective is to analyze a specific type of artifact that has come to symbolise the city's artistic production" the so-called stone mask. Understanding these objects is critical to our larger understanding of the ancient city. This panel presents the first results of an international group of scholars dedicated to finding and documenting every known Teotihuacan stone mask. Our database currently holds over 200 distinct objects in public and private collections around the world, and we a certain there are dozens, if not hundreds, that remain to be recorded. Recent research has delved into various aspects of the masks, but this group would represent the first organized effort to combine this dispersed information into a systematic assessment. Many scholars rightfully hold serious reservations about the authenticity of many masks in public and private collections. The number of masks found in art books and auction catalogues far exceeds that reported from controlled excavations at Teotihuacan. Still, some patterns emerge: they have not been recovered in burials, and those found in the city center suggest they were used in a public function, perhaps reserved for the elite. Masks in older European and United States collections were apparently recovered from near the surface by 19th century explorers and tourists. Our panel hopes to bring these historically early discoveries in a context together with the archaeologically controlled examples in order to establish a more coherent corpus. Our interdisciplinary panel will address issues of masks and their archaeological contexts in the ancient city; lithic production based on workshop debris, including possible geological identification of the stones; distribution of similar masks in areas far from Teotihuacan itself, both in time and in space; technical markers that aid in distinguishing between modern and ancient objects; and the history of collecting these enigmatic and emblematic objects in the 19th and 20th centuries. The panel's efforts will re-focus attention on an an enigmatic genre of Teotihuacan artistic endeavor and lay the foundation for future research. The 54th International Congress of Americanists provides the ideal environment for the exchanged of ideas about these objects amongst scholars of many disciplines and many countries.

Palavras-chaves: Mesoamerica Teotihuacan Lithic Production Art History Historiography

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