The Foundation of Heaven: The Great Temple of the Aztecs

A Symposium in Homage to Eduardo Matos Moctezuma

April 21, 2017 9:00 a.m. - 6:00 p.m. Los Angeles County Museum of Art

April 22, 2017 8:30 a.m - 7:00 p.m Cal State LA


This Mesoamerican Symposium in homage to Eduardo Matos-Moctezuma, organized by the Art History Society of California State University, Los Angeles and Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), promises to be spectacular.  It will take place on April 21 – 22 of 2017 in both locations.  This year is particularly unique.  In addition to our highly regarded featured speakers, we will present a very special event in conjunction with the symposium: all attendees and participants are invited to the inaugural viewing of a special exhibit of antique books of Mesoamerica and Colonial Mexico in the John F. Kennedy Library at California State University, Los Angeles after the closing of Saturday’s Symposium presentations.  The title of the exhibit is: Transcultural Dialogues: The Books of Mesoamerica and Colonial Mexico.  This exhibit shows some jewels of the Ruwet, Glass and Nicholson collections of California State University, Los Angeles that are open to scholars, students and general public and are an integral part of a proposed center for the advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in our campus.


As you all know, events of this nature are costly and the features of this year’s symposium have added to that expense. However, in an effort to better help cover costs, we will implement a door price and a pre-sale price.  The door price will be $30 for general admission and $20 for all students with no exceptions.  Advance purchase will be as follows:

  • $25 for general admission,
  • $15 for all other University and College students with student ID, and
  • $10 for Cal State LA students with student ID

The $10 Cal State LA student price is made possible by a subsidy of Cal State LA's student body through Associated Students, Inc. (ASI).  This will be our 6th year in which we offer discounted prices if you pay in advance. The fee is for the whole weekend, both Friday & Saturday (and admission to the inaugural exhibit with reception). Students will need to provide their student number via email or letter and present their student ID at the door.


Advance payment may be made in the following three ways: 

BY MAIL: You can mail a check made payable to Art History Society of Cal State LA to the following address:

Art History Society and/or Dr. Manuel Aguilar
California State University, Los Angeles
Fine Arts Building, FA228
5151 State University Drive
Los Angeles, CA 90032

IN PERSON: You can pay in cash or by check to the Art History Society of Cal State LA located in room 228 on the second floor of the Fine Arts Building at California State University, Los Angeles. 

We will send you an email, text or call confirming receipt of payment. As the date approaches, we will provide you with more information.


SQUARE:  You can pay through Square.*

*We will add $1.00 to the cost as a convenience fee to offset the fees and commissions charged to us by Square for the service.

Square Payment


DONATIONS: Our student organization takes great pride in creating these type of artistic and cultural events for the service of our community. We appreciate your generous donation.



For additional information, please contact us at:

Or call us at: 1 (818) 926- 7635

You can also access our offical webpage at: 




Recommended Hotels Near California State University, Los Angeles:

City of Pasadena and City of Alhambra



The Foundation of Heaven: The Great Temple of the Aztecs

A Symposium in Homage to Eduardo Matos Moctezuma


Our 2017 Mesoamerican Symposium, a two day event, titled The Foundation of Heaven: The Great Temple of the Aztecs. A Symposium in Homage to Eduardo Matos Moctezuma will take place on April 21, 2017 at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA) and April 22, 2017 at California State University, Los Angeles.



Matos 2

Eduardo Matos Moctezuma was born in 1940 in Mexico City; he graduated as an archaeologist from the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia (ENAH, the National School of Anthropology and History) and obtained his Master and Ph.D. degrees in Anthropological Studies from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). Matos Moctezuma has conducted field work in such revered places as Tula, Comalcalco, Cholula, Teotihuacan, Tlatelolco, Tenochtitlan and various others. He served as a professor in ENAH for over 30 years. He has over 500 works in print as articles, reviews, catalogues, guides, books. Among his most acclaimed works are Muerte a Filo de Obsidiana with 8 editions, Vida y Muerte en el Templo Mayor (Life and Death in the Templo Mayor), Los Aztecas (Aztecs), Las piedras negadas: De la Coatlicue al Templo Mayor (Lecturas mexicanas) to name, but a few. Matos Moctezuma has presented in over 1,000 conferences both nationally and internationally. He has been bestowed with the Chevalier dans l’Ordre des Palmes Académiques, Chevalier de l’Ordre National du Mérite and given the Ordre des Arts et des Lettres by the Republic of France; awarded the Henry B. Nicholson Medal by Harvard University and an honorary doctorate in science by the University of Colorado Boulder. He is a member of the German Archaeological Institute, Colegio Nacional (Academy of Sciences of Mexico), and the Mexican Academy of History. He is an Emeritus Researcher at Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), and was awarded the National Science and Arts Prize in 2007. In 2009 he was recognized by the foundation “Mexico Unido en Sus Valores Culturales.” In this 2017 symposium, he will be bestowed the Tlamatini Award by Cal State LA.

Presentation: La Vida de un Arqueologo en Tres Momentos (with English Translation) 





Dr. John M.D Pohl is an eminent authority on North American Indian civilizations and has directed numerous archaeological excavations and surveys in Canada, the United States, Mexico, and Central America, as well as Europe. He has designed many exhibitions on North and Central American Indian peoples, including “The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire” at the Getty Villa in 2010, and co-curated the exhibit “The Children of the Plumed Serpent: The Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico” at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art. Dr. Pohl is noted for bringing the ancient past to life using a wide variety of innovative techniques and his experiences have taken him from the Walt Disney Imagineering Department of Cultural Affairs to CBS television where he served as writer and producer for the American Indian Documentary Series “500 Nations,” and Princeton University where he was appointed as the first Peter Jay Sharp Curator and Lecturer in the Art of the Ancient Americas. Among his various titles:

* Children of the Plumed Serpent: The Legacy of Quetzalcoatl in Ancient Mexico. J. Paul Getty Museum, 2012. Co-authors: Virginia Fields and Victoria I. Lyall.
* The Aztec Pantheon and the Art of Empire. Scala Arts Publishers Inc., 2010. Co-author: Claire L. Lyons.
* Lord Eight Wind of Suchixtlan and the Heroes of Ancient Oaxaca: Reading History in the Codex Zouche-Nuttall. University of Texas Press, 2010. Co-authors: Robert Lloyd Williams & F. Kent Reilly III.
* Narrative Mixtec Ceramics of Ancient Mexico. Stinehour Press, 2007.
* The Legend of Lord Eight Deer: An Epic of Ancient Mexico. Oxford University Press, USA, 2002.
* Exploring Mesoamerica (Places in Time). Oxford University Press, USA, 2002.

Presentation: Eduardo Matos Moctezuma and the Reinvention of Mexican Archaeology

Abstract: Beginning in the early 1970’s, many Mexican and American archaeologists were trained in the “New Archaeology” which in turn was an outgrowth of dramatic changes in the field of anthropology orienting itself to more Marxist perspectives on culture. This led to an emphasis on population studies, environment and subsistence, especially with regard to the origin and evolution of the Mesoamerican state. In so doing archaeologists began to set aside the study of the art of ancient civilizations as being elite, esoteric and propagandistic while colonial histories were viewed as the corrupted perspectives of conquest society. The discovery of the Coyolxauqui stone on the other hand created a dilemma in that it forced Eduardo to have to seriously consider how to deal with monumental art and architecture in modern archaeological theory and in so doing also re-introduce the study of major historical works into analysis as well— all at a time when only archaeology, it was advocated, could produce any real “facts.” I will use several examples from the Templo Mayor project to illustrate how its investigators were able to get art and historical perspectives back out on the front end of research into civilizational development using a scientific method of inductive and deductive reasoning between the fields of archaeology, art history and ethnohistory.


lauraDr. Laura Filloy Nadal has a bachelor's degree in restoration by the National School of Conservation, as well as a master's degree and a doctorate in archeology from the Sorbonne in Paris. Throughout her career, she has been a guest researcher at the University of Princeton University and the University of Paris, as well as guest professor at the University of Rome. Throughout her career, she has been a guest researcher at the University of Princeton University and the University of Paris, as well as guest professor at the University of Rome. From 1994 works in the Conservation Laboratory of the National Museum of Anthropology and serves as professor of Conservation in the National School of Anthropology and History and in the National School of Conservation, both of the INAH. Among the awards she has received are her appointment as a member of the National System of Researchers, in addition to the "Paul Coremans Prize" for the best conservation work for the restoration of the mask of Pakal of Palenque; the "Premio Miguel Covarrubias" in museography for the exhibition "Maya Faces: Lineage and power", and the honorable mention of the “Premio Alfonso Caso" in archaeology for her doctoral thesis, which will be published soon by the Fund of Economic Culture (FCE). In the archeological zone of Teotihuacán, she has coordinated the work of conservation in the Xalla Project and in the Pyramid of the Moon Project. In the National Museum of Anthropology, she had directed the Project NANOforArt, sponsored by The National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) and the European Community, to develop and implement new products of restoration with nanoparticles to intervene mural paintings and archival documents.  In The National Museum of Anthropology and History, she has also spearheaded the restoration of emblematic pieces such as The Wall Panel in the Temple of the Cross in Palenque and The Statue of the Bat God of Monte Albán, as well as the bronze relief that covers the fountain of the central patio of the museum, the work of the Chávez Morado brothers.

Presentation: Precious Feathers for the Aztec Emperor. Feathered Accoutrements from Moctezuma’s Treasure

Abstract: Featherwork was one of the most delicate and refined art forms in pre-Hispanic Mexico. A group of specialists were responsible for fashioning multi-colored plumes into all sorts of finery such as shields and headdresses. These beautiful objects were of enormous importance to the Aztecs, for they served to exalt the hierarchy of gods, kings, lords, priests, and warriors. Sixteen century written manuscripts are an excellent source for understanding the manufacturing techniques used by Aztec craftsmen to make luxury items, and, to comprehend how feathers and feathered objects arrived and circulated throughout Moctezuma’s empire. The meticulous study of three Aztec feathered accoutrements and a magnificent headdress has allowed us to understand, not only the materials used in their manufacture, but also to estimate the number of feathers required to make these objects. This presentation will examine the resources and techniques employed by feather workers in the capital of the Mexica empire during the reign of Moctezuma II.


loDr. Leonardo López Luján is Senior Researcher in Archaeology at the Museo del Templo Mayor in Mexico City, and Director of the Proyecto Templo Mayor since 1991. He holds a Ph.D. in Archaeology from the Université de Paris Ouest. He has been a visiting researcher at Princeton University and Dumbarton Oaks, as well as guest professor at the Università degli Studi di Roma La Sapienza”, the École Pratique en Sciences Sociales and the Sorbonne in Paris.  He specializes in the politics, religion, and art of Pre-Columbian urban societies in Central Mexico.  In recent years he has also devoted part of his time to research on the origins of archaeology in New Spain. He has authored or co-authored sixteen books, including The Offerings of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan (1994, winner of the Kayden Humanities Award), Mexico’s Indigenous Past (2001, with Alfredo López Austin), Aztèques: la collection de sculptures du musée du quai Branly (2005, with Marie-France Fauvet-Berthelot), La Casa de las Águilas (2006), Escultura monumental mexica (2009, with Eduardo Matos Moctezuma), and Monte Sagrado-Templo Mayor (2009, with Alfredo López Austin). Among his fourteen edited or co-edited academic volumes and catalogs are Gli Aztechi tra passato e presente (2006, with Alessandro Lupo and Luisa Migliorati), Arqueología e historia del Centro de México (2006, with Davíd Carrasco and Lourdes Cué), and The Art of Urbanism (2009, with William L. Fash). He has co-curated several exhibitions, such as The Aztec World (2008, with Elizabeth Brumfiel and Gary Feinmann) at the Field Museum and Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler (2009, with Eduardo Matos Moctezuma and Colin McEwan) at the British Museum. He was awarded the 2000 Prize in Social Sciences by the Mexican Academy of Sciences. In 2013, he was elected fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and the British Academy. Last year he received the Shanghai Forum Archaeology Award as the director of one of the ten best archaeological research programs in the world in 2013-2015. 

Presentation 1: On the origin of Mexica archaeology: Antonio de León y Gama and his lost drawings of sculptures from Tenochtitlan (1791-1794)*

Abstract: Between 1791 and 1794 many Mexica sculptures were discovered in Mexico City, which were systematically documented by Don Antonio de León y Gama. Unfortunately, after the death of this novohispanic astronomer and antiquarian in 1802, his drawings were forgotten and were never published together with the book that tries to unvail their enigmatic meaning: the so-called Advertencias anti-críticas contained in the second edition of the Descripción histórica y cronológica de las dos piedras (1832). In this presentation I will show those images and they will be anaylzed in full detail. 

*Co-author: Marie-France Fauvet-Berthelot of the Société des Américanistes de Paris 

Marie-France Fauvet-Berthelot is a French archaeologist that was a memeber of the French-Guatemalan archaelogical mission who did excavations in the highlands of Guatemala between 1966 and 2002. She also participated in archaelogical projects in Michoacán, Mexico, about regional funerary practices, between 1983 and 2002. She was in charge of the Pre-Columbian collections in the Museum of Man of Paris from 1982 to 1987 and in the Museum of Quai Branly from 1999-2004. She taught classes of Pre-Columbian Archaeology in the University of Paris-West-La Défense from 1994 to 2007. She has numerous publications in Mesoamerican and Andean topics. 

Presentation 2: Eduardo Matos Moctezuma: A Man of His Time 

Abstract: An appraisal of Eduardo Matos Moctezuma' lifetime achievements. 


elizDr. Elizabeth Baquedano obtained her PhD at the Institute of Archaeology, University College London. She is a Lecturer at University College London, Institute of Archaeology and at the Spanish and Latin American Department at University College London. She has curated several exhibitions among them: Organiser of the Exhibition "Aztec Treasures from Mexico" for the State Visit of the Mexican President Miguel de la Madrid, Museum of Mankind, London. June 1985. “Henry Moore in Mexico”, Exhibition curated for Henry Moore’s centenary. University of East Anglia, Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, Norwich, 1998. Among her recent publications: 

Aztec Sculpture, 1984, British Museum Publications
*Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and Supreme Aztec Deity (ed.) University Press of Colorado scheduled for publication in May 2014
 * Baquedano, E. and Graulich, M. 1993. ‘Decapitation among the Aztecs: mythology, agriculture and politics and hunting. Estudios de Cultura Nahuatl, Instituto de Investigaciones Históricas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, vol. 23, pp. 163-173.
 * Baquedano, E. and James, N.1995. ‘War and Sacrifice in Mexica State Sculpture. In La Quệte du cinquieme soleil. Hommages a Jacques Soustelle. Ed. Jacqueline de Durand-Forest et Georges Baudot. Editions L’Harmattan, Vol. II, pp. 163-173
 * 2005 ‘El oro Azteca y sus conexiones con el poder, la fertilidad agrícola, la guerra y la muerte’, Estudios de Cultura Náhuatl, vol. 36, pp.359-381.

 * 2011 Concepts of Death and the Afterlife in Central Mexico In Living with the Dead: Mortuary Ritual in Mesoamerica. Edited by James Fitzsimmons and Izumi Shimada The University of Texas Press, Tucson, pp. 203-230.

Presentation: Sun, War, and Afterlife: Gold in Postclassic Mesoamerica 

AbstractMost of the extant Postclassic gold objects seem to have a close connection to warfare. Warfare is the agency and the iconographic motifs of gold jewellery revolve around eagle knights, shields, dead warriors or gold objects found in funerary contexts associated to warfare. This paper explores the importance of warfare and the function of gold jewellery in Postclassic Mesoamerica, particularly among the Mexicas. ​


tereDr. Teresa Uriarte has completed her master's and doctoral studies in art history at the Department of Philosophy and Letters of the UNAM. She has been director of the Institute of Aesthetic Research, Coordinator of the Academic Council of the Area of ​​Humanities and Arts, and member of the Governing Board of the UNAM. Recently she was the director of Cultural Affairs of UNAM. She is author of the books History and art of the peninsula of Baja California, and Art and Archaeology in Central México among others, in addition to multiple chapters of books and articles in specialized Mexican and foreign journals. She has also been in charge of the coordination and editing of more than a dozen books among which stand out From ancient California to the desert of Atacama, winner of a prize CANIEM at Editorial Art in the Genre of Educational Support. As a researcher, she has worked on two research projects that have culminated in publications and had a research stay at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. Since 2005, she has participated in the project "The pre-Hispanic mural painting in Mexico," of which she is a founding member. As a teacher, Dr. Uriarte has taught courses at the undergraduate and graduate levels, mainly at the Department of Philosophy and Letters of the UNAM, where she also participated in the creation of the program for a specialization in Art History. She has led 13 doctoral dissertations, and many master and bachelor degrees. Dr. Uriarte has been a member of the organizing committee of many academic conferences and has participated as speaker in symposia and round tables in Mexico and abroad. In the same way, she has been member of academic boards and editorial committees, including the Fondo de Cultura Económica (Fund for Economic Culture) and the magazine Arqueología Mexicana. As curator she has collaborated and advised three museums, including the Museum of Pre-Hispanic Art UNAM- Tlatelolco and the Beatriz de la Fuente Museum: Murals of the City of the Gods. She has also participated in the organization of exhibitions presented in Mexico and abroad, as well as in coordinating multiple cultural events. Her academic and professional merits have been recognized by institutions such as the Colegio de Sinaloa. She has received two awards for her support to Mexican culture, an editorial award, and a recognition as director of the doctoral dissertation that won the prize of the Mexican Academy of Sciences in 2010. 

Presentation: Myths, Transformation, Death and Resurrection in the Ancient World: Agricultural Rituals in Mesoamerica and Greece. 

AbstractWitchcraft, hallucinogens, transformations, are all common lore in the Ancient world. How was this lived in Pre-Columbian Mexico and what can we find in Templo Mayor? This is what I will try to share in this paper dedicated to my dear friend, teacher and colleague Eduardo Matos Moctezuma.



Prof. Raúl Barrera has participated in 46 archaeological interventions in different regions of Mexico, through his 28 years of professional practice. Some of his most important works are those made in the archaeological zone of Ixcateopan, Guerrero. In Nayarit, he has done work in Ixtlán del Río, in the Aguamilpa Hydroelectric Dam and the coordination of the Archaeological Salvage Project El Cajon Hydroelectric Dam. In the State of Oaxaca, he has carried out fieldwork in the region of La Cańada, in the Mixteca Alta and in the Central Valleys. He also carried out work on the Pyramid of the Sun, as part of the Teotihuacan Special Project and in Tula, Hidalgo. He is currently responsible for the Urban Archaeology Program of the Templo Mayor Museum. In this program, the investigations focus on the heart of the city of Mexico, in the perimeter that in the pre-Hispanic period comprised the Sacred Precinct of Tenochtitlan. He has been a lecturer in different academic forums in Mexico and also abroad. He has several publications and catalogs. He has also curated 20 national and international exhibits. In 2004, he was awarded the Nayarit Medal, the highest distinction awarded by this State Government.  At this moment, he coordinates excavations in the street of Guatemala No.24, a place where the Huei Tzompantli (main skulls platform) of Tenochtitlan was detected, as well as in the street of Argentina where a Mexica platform was located and has been enabled to be shown to the public.  In addition to this, he has continued with research activities in the Plaza Manuel Gamio and in the surrounding area of the Metropolitan Cathedral. 

Presentation: El Huei Tzompantli del Recinto Sagrado de Tenochititlan

Abstract: In 2015, the Program of Urban Archaeology (PAU) of INAH, carried out the first season of excavations in the building located in Guatemala Street No. 24, at the Historic Center of Mexico City. The archaelogical surveys showed us that besides Colonial vestiges and other historical periods of the City of Mexico, there were three levels of pre-Hispanic floors that formed part of a large open plaza. However, the finding of greater relevance corresponds to the identification of the Huei Tzompantli of Tenochtitlan. The purpose of this work, is to make known the discovery of this platform that served to display the skulls of the sacrificed in the Great Temple and possibly of the decapitated ones in the Ballgame or Teotlachco (The Game of the Gods).  An analysis of the spatial and ritual relationship between these buildings of the tenochca sacred site, will be made.  This data will be also compared with the information provided by the historical sources.


BooneDr. Elizabeth Boone holds the Martha and Donald Robertson Chair in Latin American Art at Tulane University.  Formerly Director of Precolumbian Studies at Dumbarton Oaks (1983-95), she has edited or co-edited eleven books, including The Aztec Templo Mayor (1987), Writing without Words (1994, with Walter Mignolo), and most recently Their Way of Writing: Scripts, Signs, and Pictographies in Pre-Columbian America(2011, with Gary Urton).  Among her single-authored books are The Codex Magliabechiano (1983), Stories in Red and Black: Pictorial Histories of the Aztecs and Mixtecs (2000) and Cycles of Time and Meaning in the Mexican Books of Fate (2007). She is a fellow of the American Academy of Art and Sciences and a corresponding member of the Academia Mexicana de la Historia.   She was awarded the Order of the Aztec Eagle by Mexico (1990). Her current project examines changes in the indigenous tradition of pictography and manuscript painting after the conquest.

Presentation: The Tlamatini of Tenochtitlan

Abstract: This presentation explores the nature of tlamatinime (sages) both before and after the Spanish conquest, as this is revealed in sculpture, the pages of painted books, and the alphabetic words preserved in the chronicles.  It explains the social and intellectual characteristics of these individuals and locates them in Aztec society.  It does so in order to contextualize the profound scholarly and intellectual contributions Eduardo Matos Moctezuma has made to Aztec studies, to Mesoamerican studies, and to Mexican cultural life in the broadest sense. 


BerdanDr. Frances F. Berdan is a Professor Emerita of Anthropology at California State University San Bernardino, where she taught for more than four decades. Her research focuses on Aztec economy, culture, and society, and on indigenous life under early Spanish colonial rule. She has authored or co-authored 14 books and more than 100 articles on these and other related topics. Her most recent book is Aztec Archaeology and Ethnohistory (Cambridge University Press, 2014).

Presentation: Aztec Ritual Economy: A View from Tenochtitlan’s Templo Mayor

Abstract: Many years ago Eduardo Matos Moctezuma proposed that the twin sanctuaries at Tenochtitlan’s Templo Mayor accentuated two primary themes in Aztec life: rain/fertility/agriculture on the Tlaloc side, and warfare/conquest/tribute on the Huitzilopochtli side. In essence, Tlaloc and Huitzilopochtli, secure atop their lofty temples, reflected the economic and political bases of Tenochtitlan. This paper builds on this perspective by exploring Tlaloc’s and Huitzilopochtli’s two economic realms through the lens of Tenochtitlan’s ritual economy.


TaubeDr. Karl Taube is a Mesoamericanist, archaeologist, epigrapher and ethno-historian, known for his publications and research into the pre-Columbian cultures of Mesoamerica and the American Southwest. In 2008 he was named the College of Humanities, Arts, and Social Sciences distinguished lecturer. Dr. Taube received his B.A. in Anthropology in 1980 from Berkeley. At Yale he received his M.A. in 1983 and Ph.D. in 1988. Dr. Taube studied under several notable Mayanist researchers, including Michael D. Coe, Floyd Lounsbury and art historian Mary Miller. Taube later co-authored with Miller a well-received encyclopedic work, The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya. Field research undertaken during the course of his career include a number of assignments on archaeological, linguistic and ethnological projects conducted in the Chiapas highlands, Yucatán Peninsula, Central Mexico, Honduras and most recently, Guatemala. As of 2003, Taube has served as Project Iconographer for the Proyecto San Bartolo, co-directed by William Saturno and Monica Urquizu. His primary role is to interpret the murals of Pinturas Structure Sub-1, dating to the first century B.C. In 2004, Dr. Taube co-directed an archaeological project documenting previously unknown sources of “Olmec Blue” jadeite in eastern Guatemala. He has also investigated pre-Columbian sites in Ecuador and Peru.

Presentation: The Weapon of Huitzilopochli: The Symbolism of the Xiuhcoatl in Ancient Mexico. 

Abstract: One of the most striking aspects of the Huitzilpochtli myth concerning the epic battle at Coatepec and the defeat of his older siblings is his omnipotent Xiuhcoatl weapon, the "Turquoise Serpent." Although mentioned frequently in Aztec studies, there has been little focused discussion of this being. Along with examining the major Early Colonial sources pertaining to this being, this study will also discuss the broader significance of the Xiuhcoatl in terms of its appearance in written texts, painted manuscripts and stone sculpture. Based on this body of evidence, I will note that this creature is basically a supernatural caterpillar, including the two massive examples rimming the great Calendar Stone. Colonial and contemporary documents explicitly relate caterpillars to shooting stars and meteorites. In other words, the Xiuhcoatl is a meteoric star-shooter, and in many cases it bears stars on it snout. Finally, I will trace much of this imagery to Early Postclassic and still earlier Classic Mesoamerica, including both highland Mexico and the Maya lowlands.


ximDr. Ximena Chávez Balderas is a Bioarchaeologist at the Templo Mayor Project. She is specialized in funerary archaeology, sacrificial practices, mortuary treatments and archaeozoology. She earned her BA from the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia. Her Mphil was awarded by the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México and her MA by Tulane University. She is PhD candidate at Tulane University. She was the main curator of the Templo Mayor Museum between 2001 and 2007.  She received three INAH national awards in the fields of archaeology, museography and physical anthropology (2003, 2006 and 2013).  She has presented more than fifty lectures and conference papers and has published some thirty articles as well as a volume on funerary rituals—specifically cremation—at the Templo Mayor. Currently, she is working in other books, as author and as editor. Chávez Balderas has worked on a number of national and international exhibitions and has excavated at Teotihuacan (including Teopancazco, Xalla, and the Pyramids of the Moon and the Sun), Loma Guadalupe in Michoacán, Huacas de Moche, Perú, and the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan. Currently she is a Dumbarton Oaks Junior Fellow. 

Presentation: The Offering of Life: Human and Animal Sacrifice at the Main Plaza of the Sacred Precinct, Tenochitlan

Abstract: The Great Temple of Tenochtitlan was not conceived as the burial place for all the sacrificial victims. On the contrary, only some individuals and animals were deposited in this sacred space, with very specific purposes. In contrast, most of the evidence of human and animal sacrifice has been found in the main plaza, located at the foot of this temple. During the seventh field season of the Templo Mayor Project, more than 12,000 bones (human and animal) were discovered in this area, inside the ritual deposits and the construction fill. These remains were systematically excavated, using methods for commingled burials. In this paper I will present results of bioarchaeological analysis of bones with evidence of sacrifice and post-sacrificial treatments in order to get a better understanding of sacrificial practices and ritual activity in the plaza. Results will be compared with those obtained from the Great Temple assemblages, previously analyzed.


mgaDr. Diana l. Magaloni Kerpel is Deputy Director and Director of the Program for the Art of Ancient Americas at Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA).  She was Professor of Art History at the Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas of the National Autonomous University of Mexico (UNAM) in Mexico City.  She did studies at the National Institute of Anthropology and History specializing in restoration and mural painting. Dr. Magaloni earned her graduate degrees in art history from UNAM and Yale University. Her research has focused on the study of Mesoamerican and indigenous pictorial techniques in the 16th century, and she is developing an inter-disciplinary method combining chemistry, physics, archaeology, ethnography, and art history to understand how mural paintings and codices were created.  She has written extensively about pre-Hispanic mural art and the Florentine Codex.  Current projects include analysis and restoration of the murals found in the “caja de agua” of the archaeological site of Tlatelolco, and research of the Codex Reese, a sixteenth-century map held at the Beinecke Library, Yale University.  Previously, Dr. Magaloni served as Director of the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, the largest reservoir of Mesoamerican artifacts in the world. Recently, she curated the successful exhibition Picasso and Rivera: Conversations through Time at LACMA.

Presentation: Considerations of Style and Meaning in the representations of the Altepetl

Abstract: This paper is a reflection on the indigenous aesthetics, before and after the Conquest, through the concept of Altepetl. I will analyze paintings and buildings in Teotihuacan, as well as, pre-Columbian and colonial codices to try to show how there are concepts that persist and acquire new forms to reflect with it how the historical time is linked to the mythical time.


mundyDr. Barbara Mundy is a Professor of Art History at Fordham University; she received her Ph.D. in the History of Art at Yale University. She studies the art and visual culture produced in Spain’s colonies, and her scholarship spans both digital and traditional formats. With Dana Leibsohn, she is the creator of Vistas: Visual Culture in Spanish America, 1520-1820, now online and first published as a DVD by University of Texas, 2010. Her latest book, The Death of Aztec Tenochtitlan, the Life of Mexico City (University of Texas, 2015) looks at the ecology and ritual life of the city, one of the largest in the world in the 16th century, as it was transformed from the Aztec imperial capital into the center of the Spanish viceroyalty and was the winner of the Association of Latin American Art’s Arvey award for the best book on Latin American Art and Architecture in 2015. Her first book, The Mapping of New Spain (University of Chicago, 1996) was awarded the Nebenzahl Prize in the History of Cartography in 1996. She edited, with Mary Miller, and contributed to Painting a Map of Sixteenth-Century Mexico City: Land, Writing and Native Rule, an interdisciplinary study of a rare indigenous map (Beinecke Library/Yale University Press, 2012). Her work has been supported by the National Endowment of the Humanities, the Argosy foundation, and the Center for Advanced Studies in Visual Art at the National Gallery of Art.

Presentation: The Flaying of Trees and the Destiny of Humans: The Meanings of paper in the Aztec World 

Abstract: Recent finds in the Great Temple bear witness to the wide and varied usages of paper in the Aztec world. Amatl, paper, was made from the inner bark of the fig tree (ficus), and was used for offerings, for ornament, for clothing, for tribute, as well as for books, including the sacred tonalamatl, through which human destiny was foretold. The peoples of Central Mexico chose materials—especially those put to ritual ends–with thought and care. So what made the material of amatl so fitting for all these uses? In this paper, I look at the creation of amatl and its resultant physical properties, as revealed by contemporary scientific analysis, to reveal the holistic worldview that was made manifest through materials, down to the smallest scrap of paper.


AguilarDr. Manuel Aguilar-Moreno is a Professor of Art History at California State University, Los Angeles. He received his B.S. in Electronic Engineering and a certification in Education at the ITESO Jesuit University of Mexico. He also earned a degree in Mexican History with emphasis on the state of Jalisco from El Colegio de Jalisco. In 1997 he earned an M.A. in Latin American Studies and in 1999 received an Interdisciplinary Ph.D. in Art History and Anthropology from the University of Texas at Austin under the tutelage of the late Dr. Linda Schele and late Dr. Karl Butzer. Dr. Aguilar-Moreno has made numerous cultural and research trips worldwide. He has been a professor of Mesoamerican and Colonial Mexican Art History, World History, History of México and Biblical Literature at such institutions as the ITESO Jesuit University and the Instituto de Ciencias, in Guadalajara, Mexico; the University of San Diego, California; the University of Texas at Austin; the Semester at Sea Program of the Universities of Pittsburgh and Virginia, teaching a complete semester on board of a ship around the world with fieldwork opportunities.  He has published more than 40 articles in topics of Mesoamerica, Colonial Mexico, and Funerary Art.  At present he is preparing a comprehensive book based on his Proyecto Ulama 2003-2013, that was an investigation about the survival of the Mesoamerican Ballgame. Among his recent books:

* The Perfection of Silence: The Cult of Death in Mexico. Guadalajara: Secretary of Culture of Jalisco, 2003.
* Handbook to Life in the Aztec World. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
* Utopía de Piedra: El Arte Tequitqui de Mexico. Guadalajara: Conexión Gráfica, 2005.

Presentation: The Codex Mendoza and the 16,000 Rubber Balls of Tochtepec 

Abstract: The Codex Mendoza is a Mexica-Aztec codex, created around 1541 most probably in the scriptorium of the College of Sta. Cruz de Tlatelolco, with the intent that it be sent to Charles V, the Holy Roman Emperor and King of Spain.  It is structured in three parts, containing a history of the Aztec rulers and their conquests, a list of the tribute paid by the conquered provinces, and a description of daily Aztec life. The second part of the Codex Mendoza lists the semi-annual and annual tributes owed by 39 provinces of the Aztec Empire.  Folio 46r, the richest page of this section, lists the tribute for the province of the town of Tochtepec in the Gulf coastal lowlands of northern Oaxaca and southern Veracruz. The fact that Tochtepec was providing 16,000 rubber balls in tribute per year, motivated my Ulama Project to investigate the reasons for this huge amount and analyze the implications of the scale of Pre-Columbian rubber production. Our exploration of the implications of that huge amount of rubber balls extracted by the Aztecs in tribute from the province of Tochtepec each year, as shown in Codex Mendoza, clearly indicates that the growing of the rubber and the production of balls must have occurred on a far larger scale than commonly appreciated. This data allows us to reconstruct in far more tangible terms the consequences of the Aztec levy. 


AustinDr. Alfredo López Austin was already an established attorney in his hometown of Ciudad Juárez, Mexico before earning his doctorate in history from the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México (UNAM). In time he quickly earned a reputation as a brilliant scholar in the fields of Mesoamerican mythology, iconography, cosmology and ritual. His emphasis is on the Nahua civilization. Today, he is an Emeritus professor of Mesoamerican Cosmology at UNAM’S Facultad de Filosofia y Letras and an Emeritus Researcher at UNAM’S Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas. Among his various recognitions, López Austin received the lichiko Prize for Cultural Study in 1993 from the Institue for Intercultural & Transdisciplinary Studies in Toyko, Japan. In 1993 he also earned the Premio Universidad Nacional de Mexico for Research in Social Sciences. in 2007 he received recognition in Perugia, Italy during the 29th International Congress of Americanism for his lifetime achievements. In 2008 Lopez Austin was awarded a medal and certificate by the Senate of the University of Warsaw for his contributions in expanding the knowledge of Pre-Columbian cultures. More recently in 2011 during the Maya Meetings in Austin, Texas, López Austin received the Linda Schele Award. In the 2012 Mesoamerican Symposium, the Department of Art of California State University, Los Angeles in conjunction with The Art History Society of Cal State LA presented the Tlamatini Award to Alfredo López Austin for his lifetime achievements in the field of Mesoamerican Studies.  His impressive record of publications include nearly 20 books and more than 100 articles. 

Presentation: Mentiras y Verdades. Sobre la Verdad del Mito (Lies and Truths. About the Truth of the Myth)

Abstract: Eduardo Matos Moctezuma publishes an article in a series he created with the title "Lies and Truths". Now I use the same challenging title of his publications to refute the common opposition that occurs between myth and history. This false contradiction between the two ways of referring the past will be confronted, trying to prove that both myth and history can be true or false, but their status cannot be compared, because despite the appearance that both have the same object of reference, their functions are very distant and their truths refer to different criteria of truth.


CarrascoDr. David Carrasco (Neil L. Rudenstine Professor of the Study of Latin America) is a Mexican American historian of religions with particular interest in Mesoamerican cities as symbols, and the Mexican-American borderlands. His studies with historians of religions at the University of Chicago inspired him to work on the question, "where is your sacred place," on the challenges of postcolonial ethnography and theory, and on the practices and symbolic nature of ritual violence in comparative perspective. Working with Mexican archaeologists, he has carried out research in the excavations and archives associated with the sites of Teotihuacan and Mexico-Tenochtitlan resulting in Religions of Mesoamerica, City of Sacrifice, and Quetzalcoatl and the Irony of Empire. An award-winning teacher, he has participated in spirited debates at Harvard with Cornel West and Samuel Huntington on the topics of race, culture, and religion in the Americas. Recent collaborative publications include Breaking Through Mexico's Past: Digging the Aztecs With Eduardo Matos Moctezuma (2007), Mysteries of the Maya Calendar Museum (2012) with Laanna Carrasco, and Cave, City, and Eagle's Nest: An Interpretive Journey Through the Mapa de Cuauhtinchan No. 2 (2007; gold winner of the 2008 PubWest Book Design Award in the academic book/nontrade category) recently featured in The New York Review of Books. Carrasco has received the Mexican Order of the Aztec Eagle, the highest honor the Mexican government gives to a foreign national. He has recently been chosen as the University of Chicago Alumnus of the Year, 2014.

Presentation: Breaking Through  Mexico's Past: Digging the Aztecs with Eduardo Matos Moctezuma

Abstract: This illustrated lecture explores the cultural, archaeological and psychological sources of Eduardo Matos Moctezuma's extraordinary creativity. Utilizing the frameworks of existential anthropology and the history of religions, Carrasco shows how Matos Moctezuma integrated his complex cultural identity,  personal trauma, powerful will and hunger for new knowledge to illuminate the underlying patterns of Mexico's religious and political identity. Discussion of Matos how Moctezuma's humanistic and anthropological practices resulted in not only the Templo Mayor excavation but also the Museo del Templo Mayor and a brilliant career as a public intellectual of rare genius.


Exhibit of Antique Books of Mexico

April 22, 2017 5:00 p.m - 7:00 p.m in JFK Library at Cal State LA
book e

We would like to remind you, that in addition to our highly regarded keynote speakers, we will feature a very special event in conjunction with the symposium: all attendees and participants are invited to the inaugural viewing of a special exhibit of antique books of Mesoamerica and Colonial Mexico in the John F. Kennedy Library at California State University, Los Angeles after the closing of Saturday’s Symposium presentations.  The title of the exhibit is: Transcultural Dialogues: The Books of Mesoamerica and Colonial Mexico.  This exhibit shows some jewels of the Ruwet, Glass and Nicholson collections of California State University, Los Angeles that are open to scholars, students and general public and are an integral part of a proposed center for the advancement of Mesoamerican Studies in our campus.

The speakers for the opening are Dr. Enrique Krauze, a renown Mexican historian and founder of Clio Publishing House and TV; Juan Carlos Rodriguez, Dean of the JFK Library of Cal State LA; Azalea Camacho, Coordinator of Special Collections; Dr. Susan Schroeder, Professor of History at Tulane University. 

Thank you for your interest and participation in our 6th Mesoamerican Symposium!