Turquoise Mosaics from Mexico

Overview

The nine turquoise mosaics from Mexico are among the most striking objects in the collections of the British Museum. They include masks, a shield, a knife, and a helmet, all originating from the Mixtec and Aztec civilizations first encountered by Europeans during the Spanish conquest in the early sixteenth century.

Recent scientific investigations undertaken at the British Museum have dramatically advanced knowledge of the mosaics by characterizing, for the first time, the ...

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Overview

The nine turquoise mosaics from Mexico are among the most striking objects in the collections of the British Museum. They include masks, a shield, a knife, and a helmet, all originating from the Mixtec and Aztec civilizations first encountered by Europeans during the Spanish conquest in the early sixteenth century.

Recent scientific investigations undertaken at the British Museum have dramatically advanced knowledge of the mosaics by characterizing, for the first time, the variety of natural materials that were used to create them. Research has also brought to light the exceptional skills employed by the makers of the mosaics. In this lavishly illustrated book, specialists from the British Museum explore the role of turquoise mosaics in ritual by drawing on contemporary accounts and early pictorial books or codices that place these compelling objects in their historical context. Turquoise Mosaics from Mexico offers a succinct and informative overview of the production, utilization, and eventual fate of these beautiful and mysterious objects.

About the Author:
Colin McEwan is an archaeologist and head of the Americas section at the British Museum

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Editorial Reviews

Janet Kozachek

“What makes Turquoise Mosaics From Mexico of special interest to mosaic artists is the information on how and why particular materials were used, their origins and ritual significance. Also very useful for visual artists are the illustrations of multiple views of objects and magnified images of their details. The illustrations allow the reader vantage points typically not seen from texts or even first hand as a museum-goer.”
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780822339243
  • Publisher: Duke University Press Books
  • Publication date: 11/28/2006
  • Pages: 96
  • Product dimensions: 7.40 (w) x 9.60 (h) x 0.30 (d)

Meet the Author

Colin McEwan is an archaeologist and head of the Americas section at the British Museum.

Andrew Middleton is a mineralogist at the British Museum.

Caroline Cartwright specializes in the identification of wood, fiber, and shell as a scientist at the British Museum

Rebecca Stacey is an expert in the characterization of resins, waxes, and gums at the British Museum.

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Table of Contents


Director's Foreword     6
Acknowledgements     7
Introduction     8
Ancient Mexico     8
Sources of information     8
Mosaics in the British Museum     11
Antecedents in serpentine and jade     14
The significance of materials     19
Mosaics under the Microscope     24
Microscopy and analysis: the science behind the art     24
Raw materials: selection and procurement     27
Construction of the mosaics     38
The Turquoise Mosaics in the British Museum Collections     42
The masks     42
The helmet     53
The double-headed serpent     54
The shield     59
The mosaic on a human skull     66
The knife     71
The jaguar     78
The animal head     83
Epilogue     85
Notes     86
Glossary of scientific techniques     90
Bibliography     91
Index     94
Picture credits     96
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