Teotihuacan: An Experiment in Living

Overview

This book is the first comprehensive study and reinterpretation of the unique arts of Teotihuacan, including architecture, sculpture, mural painting, and ceramics. Comparing the arts of Teotihuacan - not previously judged "artistic" - with those of other ancient civilizations, Ester Pasztory demonstrates how they created and reflected the community’s ideals.

Most people associate the pyramids of central Mexico with the Aztecs, but these colossal constructions antedate the Aztecs...

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Norman Norman Hardcover 304 pages. Hardcover with dustjacket. Brand new book. MESOAMERICA. This book is the first comprehensive study and reinterpretation of the unique arts of ... Teotihuacan, including architecture, sculpture, mural painting, and ceramics. Comparing the arts of Teotihuacan-not previously judged "artistic"-with those of other ancient civilizations, Ester Pasztory demonstrates how they created and reflected the community's ideals. Most people associate the pyramids of central Mexico with the Aztecs, but these colossal constructions antedate the Aztecs by more than a thousand years. The people of Teotihuacan, who built the pyramids as part of a city of unprecedented size, remain a mystery. (Key Words: Mesoamerica, Mexico, Teotihuacan, Anthropology, Archaeology, Ethnohistory, Latin America). Read more Show Less

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Overview

This book is the first comprehensive study and reinterpretation of the unique arts of Teotihuacan, including architecture, sculpture, mural painting, and ceramics. Comparing the arts of Teotihuacan - not previously judged "artistic" - with those of other ancient civilizations, Ester Pasztory demonstrates how they created and reflected the community’s ideals.

Most people associate the pyramids of central Mexico with the Aztecs, but these colossal constructions antedate the Aztecs by more than a thousand years. The people of Teotihuacan, who built the pyramids as part of a city of unprecedented size, remain a mystery.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon at Teotihuacan may be two of Mexico City's top tourist sites, but they are also two of Mexico's greatest mysteries. Little is known about the people who built these massive structures and who lived in what must have been an immense city between about 1 and 750 AD., pre-dating the Aztec settlement of the Valley of Mexico by as much as 1000 years. They left behind impressive buildings and expressive murals but few clues to help historians and archeologists understand what their culture had been about and why their city was abandoned. We do know that the Teotihuacan was built in a sophisticated grid pattern where large extended families lived in apartment complexes and that 100,000 to 200,000 people called it home. Columbia University history professor Pasztory believes that art is a reflection of the society it creates, and interprets the lack of art dedicated to battles and triumphant rulers as a sign of the desire to create an integrated community. "Unlike the arts in most of Mesoamerica that glorified violence and dissension, art at Teotihuacan emphasized harmonious coexistence.... Teotihuacan presented itself as a timeless place, as if it existed from time immemorial and would exist into eternity, outside of history and historical contingency," she writes. Pasztory compares her theories with those of other archeologists and art historians and the variety of readings on Teotihuacan's past reminds us that much of what is believed about ancient sites is educated guesswork. Even in this complicated and technical work, the guesswork element of Teotihuacan is emphasized by the heavy reliance of words in quotations, giving the impression that too many of the ideas the book supports are based on feelings rather than solid scholarship. Apr.
Publishers Weekly - Cahners\\Publishers_Weekly
The Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon at Teotihuacan may be two of Mexico City's top tourist sites, but they are also two of Mexico's greatest mysteries. Little is known about the people who built these massive structures and who lived in what must have been an immense city between about 1 and 750 AD., pre-dating the Aztec settlement of the Valley of Mexico by as much as 1000 years. They left behind impressive buildings and expressive murals but few clues to help historians and archeologists understand what their culture had been about and why their city was abandoned. We do know that the Teotihuacan was built in a sophisticated grid pattern where large extended families lived in apartment complexes and that 100,000 to 200,000 people called it home. Columbia University history professor Pasztory believes that art is a reflection of the society it creates, and interprets the lack of art dedicated to battles and triumphant rulers as a sign of the desire to create an integrated community. "Unlike the arts in most of Mesoamerica that glorified violence and dissension, art at Teotihuacan emphasized harmonious coexistence.... Teotihuacan presented itself as a timeless place, as if it existed from time immemorial and would exist into eternity, outside of history and historical contingency," she writes. Pasztory compares her theories with those of other archeologists and art historians and the variety of readings on Teotihuacan's past reminds us that much of what is believed about ancient sites is educated guesswork. Even in this complicated and technical work, the guesswork element of Teotihuacan is emphasized by the heavy reliance of words in quotations, giving the impression that too many of the ideas the book supports are based on feelings rather than solid scholarship.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780806128474
  • Publisher: University of Oklahoma Press
  • Publication date: 4/28/1997
  • Pages: 304
  • Product dimensions: 7.27 (w) x 10.35 (h) x 1.04 (d)

Meet the Author


Esther Pasztory is the Lisa and Bernard Selz Professor in Pre-Columbian Art History and Archaeology at Columbia University. She teaches the art of both Mesoamerica and the Andes and focuses on the work of art as a source of evidence for the reconstruction of ancient cultures related to but separate from archaeological and textual data.
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Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Foreword
Preface
Acknowledgments
I Personal Discovery 3
II The Paradise of Tlaloc: The Aztec Hypothesis 15
III The New Archaeology and the State 30
IV The View from the Apartment Compound 46
V Mixed Messages: The Challenge of Interpretation 62
VI The Pyramid of the Sun and the Goddess 73
VII The Pyramid of the Moon and the Storm God 95
VIII The Ciudadela and Rulership 108
IX Minimalist Aesthetics: Plain and Simple Things 139
X Assemblage: Organization Made Explicit 161
XI The Net-Jaguar and Other Two-Dimensional Puzzles 182
XII The Human Body in Parts: Hearts and Footprints 198
XIII Divine Intervention 210
XIV The Human Element 220
XV An Experiment in Living 233
Notes 253
Bibliography 261
Index 273
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