Past Events



1519, the Arrival of Strangers: Indigenous Art and Voices 

following the Spanish Conquest of Mesoamerica

A Symposium in Homage to Miguel León-Portilla

October 3-4, 2019, 10AM - 5:30PM Getty Research Institute

October 5, 2019, 10AM - 5:30PM Cal State Los Angeles

Art History Society Mesoamerican symposium poster 2019

This Mesoamerican Symposium in homage to Miguel León Portilla, organized by the Art History Society of California State University, Los Angeles and Getty Research Institute, promises to be spectacular.  It will take place on October 3 – 5 of 2019 in both locations. This year’s quincentennial of Hernán Cortés’s arrival in Mesoamerica provides an impetus to explore perspectives on the Spanish conquest of Mexico and the subsequent transcultural processes that played out in New Spain’s artistic production. The three-day symposium highlights the great cultural, historical, and artistic achievements of indigenous peoples of New Spain.


Tickets and Parking:

This is a free, three-day symposium, taking place at the Getty Center and California State University, Los Angeles (CSULA). Separate reservations are required for each day.

Free | Advance ticket required
Day 1: October 3, 2019, at Getty Center
Day 2: October 4, 2019, at Getty Center
Day 3: October 5, 2019, at California State University, Los Angeles


For additional information, please contact us at: [email protected]

You can also access our offical webpage at: 



Symposium in Homage to Miguel León-Portilla

Portrait of Miguel Leon-Portilla, the honoree

Our 2019 Mesoamerican Symposium, a three day event, titled 1519, the Arrival of Strangers: Indigenous Art and Voices following the Spanish Conquest of MesoamericaA Symposium in Homage to Miguel León-Portilla will take place on October 3- 4, 2019 at Getty Center and October 5, 2019 at California State University, Los Angeles.

This event is in homage to the renowned Mexican scholar Miguel León-Portilla.  His book La visión de los vencidos, translated to English as Broken Spears, presents the Nahua viewpoint of the Spanish Conquest and is one of the most influential books in the field of Mesoamerican Studies.





Angelica Afanador - Pujol, Speaker
Angélica Afanador-Pujol, Arizona State University

Presentation: Conquest, Reason, and Cannibalism in the Relación de Michoacán (1539 - 1541) 

Abstract: Twenty years after the Spanish arrival to Michoacán, four indigenous artists worked with an anonymous Franciscan friar to produce the manuscript known as the Relación de Michoacán for the Spanish Viceroy Antonio de Mendoza. Among the 44 surviving images from the manuscript, one of them depicts a leader, soon to be conquered, cooking and feasting on the flesh of one of his deceased priests. Previous scholars have pointed out that many indigenous people throughout the Americas were labeled cannibals and forced to provide free labor. In this process, images of cannibals were mobilized at the service of economic interests.  They were a burgeoning genre among European artists at the time, but unprecedented among indigenous artists of Pre-Columbian times. This talk will explore the choices the indigenous painter made in copying and adapting this European model to meet the needs of the manuscript’s contributors. Through an iconographic analysis, it will explain how he transformed the European prototype to represent local concepts connecting food, reason, and conquest.


Manuel aguilar Moreno, speaker
Manuel Aguilar-Moreno, California State University, Los Angeles

Presentation: The Afterlife of the Florentine Codex and Book 12

AbstractThe Franciscan friar Bernardino de Sahagún (1499-1590), compiled the Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España (General History of the Things of New Spain), 12-volume encyclopedic work about the people and culture of central Mexico, specifically the Nahuas or Aztecs. Sahagún arrived to Mexico in 1529, just eight years after completion of the Spanish conquest. In 1577, after many incidents Sahagún completed a manuscript of the Historia that is known as the Florentine Codex, that was sent to Spain apparently in 1578-79.  This work is housed in the Biblioteca Medicea-Laurenziana of Florence. This monumental work consists of 1200 folios and about 2,500 illustrations, and is the result of the collaboration of Sahagún with indigenous sages.  Given the field-work methodology that he used, Sahagún can be considered the first ethnographer and anthropologist of the American continent. The Florentine Codex was lost for about 300 years, until 1888 when it was studied by Eduard Seler and in 1893 by Francisco del Paso y Troncoso.

This presentation deals with a brief exploration of the complex and eventful history of the Florentine Codex, its diverse editions and translations, and its trajectory through time.  In particular, I will focus in the whereabouts of the Book XII that was re-edited separately by Sahagún in 1585, tracing its astonishing “afterlife” through the cracks of history.


Berenice ALcantara Rojas, Speaker

Berenice Alcántara Rojas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Presentation: Translating Book 12: Five Variations on the Same Text 

Abstract: The Nahuatl text that came to us in Book XII of the Florentine Codex, prepared by Sahagun and his Nahua collaborators, based on Tlatelolca testimonies about the fall of the two Mexico(s) the island contained: the Tenochca and the Tlatelolca, began to be an object of translation and rewriting from the same sixteenth century. Sahagun himself composed two versions in Spanish (c. 1570 and 1585), in which he not only translated the Nahuatl text but also eliminated passages and added new information. Later, in the 20th century, when the Florentine Codex became an object of academic interest, the story about the Conquest of Mexico from book XII was retranslated into Spanish by Garibay (1956) and translated into English by Anderson and Dibble (1953-1975) and James Lockhart (1993). In this presentation she will analyze the characteristics of each of these versions, taking into account the source text from which they start, to highlight the translation horizon of these authors and the types of representation they created on the Nahuatl text they translated and on the world of which this one gave account. In parallel, she will highlight some of the peculiarities of this Nahuatl text, to propose some guidelines for future translations.


Brito Guadarrama, Speaker

Baltazar Brito Guadarrama, Biblioteca Nacional de Antropología e Historia, México

Presentation: Creating the Florentine Codex 

Abstract: This paper will explain the process of creating the Florentine Codex by emphasizing the intervention of indigenous scribes, who assisted Friar Bernardino de Sahagún in his work. It will highlight the role and tri-cultural heritage (Nahua, Spanish, and Latin) of tlacuilo scribes. 


Yve Chavez, speaker

Yve Chavez, University of California, Santa Cruz

Presentation: Female Artists, Indigenous Knowledge, and the California Missions

Abstract: Situated on the northwestern periphery of New Spain, California Indians were entangled in the political, economic and social tensions of the Spanish empire and Mexican nation. Part of a larger project on Indigenous artistic agency during California’s Mission years (1769-1834), I present case studies of female artists and knowledge bearers who appropriated and subverted foreign ideas to meet their own needs and sustain pre-existing Indigenous knowledge. A reconsideration of basketry and related practices challenges the patriarchal Spanish attitudes that taint the perception of Indigenous gender roles within the missions and resituates women as strategic negotiators of the Spanish conquest.


Eduardo de la Cruz Cruz, speaker

Eduardo de la Cruz Cruz, Instituto de Docencia e Investigación Etnológica de Zacatecas and Uniwersytet Warszawski

*Presentation: Perspectives and Reflections of Indigenous Youth on the Spanish Conquest of Mexico

AbstractIt is said that history is always written by the victors. In the case of the Florentine Codex, also known as the Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España, the text was primarily written by native scribes with Spanish oversight. Book 12 of the manuscript relates the events that culminated in the collapse of the Mexica Empire. Numerous publications highlight the complexity of the collapse by emphasizing the resistance of the Mexica and the crucial alliances between other indigenous groups and Spaniards. Despite the availability of information about the conquest of Mexico, in Mexico’s primary education system the narrative of conquest describes the Mexica and other native groups as helpless and vanquished by the Spaniards. The Mexican education system projects a victim mentality and fuels hatred toward Spaniards in contemporary youth. 


This paper presents different perspectives and reflections of young students in the Nahua community of Chicontepec, Veracruz, in respect to the conquest of Mexico. I begin by asking the youth to share their knowledge and perspective about the conquest. Subsequently, students are presented with key passages from Book 12 of the Florentine Codex, summarized in their modern variant of Nahuatl from the Huasteca Veracruzana. Finally, I ask them to reflect upon their initial conceptions of the historical events after learning about the conquest from Nahua scholars. This paper exemplifies the importance of providing access to historical Nahuatl documents, such as the Florentine Codex, to contemporary Nahua speaking communities, along with corresponding translations of their Nahuatl variant.


*Presentation in Nahuatl with Spanish and English subtitles


Kristopher Driggers, Speaker
Kristopher Driggers, Tucson Museum of Art and Historic Block

Presentation: The Conquest Narratives in Sahagún and Durán: Authorship, History, and Identity Politics

AbstractThis paper examines how manuscript images contribute distinctively to the construction of histories of the conquest in Book 12 of the Florentine Codex and the Historia of Fray Diego Durán. Working between 1575 and 1581, the Franciscan Bernardino de Sahagún and the Dominican Durán prepared histories of the conquest; in questions of authorship and ethnic loyalties, however, their works reflect different positionalities. The text of Book 12 is multi-authored, comprising the earliest (1555) Nahua transcription of the conquest and Sahagun’s translation. By contrast, Durán’s history of the conquest articulates the convictions and interpretive biases of a single author-compiler – albeit one with a complex relationship to indigeneity and the Christian legacy of the conquest. Each of these histories reveals that their image programs respond to the particular conditions under which each book was created, either elaborating or meaningfully diverging from their authors’ distinctive relationship to history and identity politics.

Two exemplary episodes demonstrate the role of images in constructing distinctive visions of the conquest. Toxcatl is a pivotal event in Book 12’s Nahua text, as Kevin Terraciano has noted (2011). Strategies for narrating and illuminating this event in each manuscript raise questions about Durán’s bicultural sensitivities and empathy with native perspectives, with a painting that devastatingly portrays Spanish infamy and breaks with the manuscript’s other illuminations depicting a heroic Cortés. Closing Duran’s Historia, paired images emphasizing the role of Cuauhtemoc further reveal the manuscript’s concerns and investments, while a complex program of repainting evinces how this treatise’s perspectives were edited or erased as the politics of history-writing evolved. Taken together, these representations allow us to observe the complicated interplay between textual authorship and visualization in constructing the conquest’s history.


Rebecca Dufendach, speaker
Rebecca Dufendach, Getty Research Institute

Presentation: “As if his heart died”: A Reinterpretation of Moteuczoma’s Cowardice in the Conquest History of the Florentine Codex

Abstract: The first encounters between Nahuas and Spaniards from 1519 to 1521 resulted in widespread deaths in the indigenous communities of central Mexico. Although the first recorded disease epidemic is often acknowledged as a factor in these losses, Moteuczoma receives much of the blame. Historians argue that Moteuczoma’s cowardice facilitated the defeat of his people. Instead, I argue that descriptions of the heart pain and fright that afflicted Moteuczoma and his people in Book XII of the Florentine Codex are references to long-standing cultural concepts of illness. This essay uses colonial and modern ethnographic sources to illuminate enduring Mesoamerican concepts of health and illness. My paper reveals how Nahuas remembered and understood the startling arrival of the Spaniards and the first disease epidemic during the invasion. The chaos and loss of life connected to the first epidemic in 1520 contributed significantly to the fall of Tenochtitlan.


Jeanette Favort Peterson, speaker
Jeanette Favrot Peterson, University of California, Santa Barbara

Presentation: European Models Transformed in Book 12: From the Old Testament to Olaus Magnus’s Historia

AbstractGiven their Europeanized style and iconography, the bountiful images in Book 12 of the Florentine Codex have been dismissed as decorative and derivative, somehow corrupted for their reliance on imported sources. The black and white paintings, in watercolor and pen and ink, were executed twenty years after the Nahuatl text of the Spanish conquest recorded in 1555. Nonetheless, the 161 images capture the graphic, often violent, immediacy of the eye-witness Nahuatl account. This paper traces certain of the European models that inspired the indigenous artists or tlacuiloque (scribe/painters) who selectively borrowed from the illustrated publications in the library of the Colegio de Santa Cruz, Santiago Tlatelolco. 

Many of the scenes that animate Book 12 are panoramic views of battles fiercely fought on land and water. These multi-figural compositions are based on biblical illustrations, in particular, the Old Testament, and on the encyclopedic History of the Northern Peoples by Olaus Magnus, the Swedish writer and Catholic ecclesiastic (1555, 1567). Six of its 22 books are dedicated to the arts of war and provide pictorial prototypes. In addition to these formal parallels, there are more conceptual and thematic analogies. An example is found in the tale of David and Goliath as echoed by the representation of the resistance fighter Tzilacatzin who alone, in the Nahuatl narrative, defeated the enemy and defended the honor of his community. Not surprisingly, the tlacuilo reverses the scale, inflating Tzilacatzin to loom large over the Spanish troops. European models were deployed strategically with inventive combinations and inversions of meanings. In resituating the paintings within a Nahua-Christian context, we can complicate a Eurocentric interpretation and foreground the intent of their indigenous makers.


Joshua Fitzgerald, speaker
Joshua Fitzgerald, Getty Research Institute

Presentation: Tlahuiztli Illuminations and Nahua Military History from the Estranged Calmecac

Abstract: To date, the History of the Spanish Conquest has only scratched the surface of Mesoamerican military education history and its transformations due Spanish pedagogies introduced in the sixteenth century. Before the 1520s, Nahua noble sons were the prime candidates for education in elite schools, the calmecac (“lineage house”), yearning for the status-defining tlahuiztli (the elite battle suits) and the preservation of ancestral military prowess. By the 1530s, however, the advent of European scholasticism saw Nahua youths entered a new learning program, the colonial pedagogy of the Colegio de Santa Cruz Tlatelolco (est. 1533). What educational practices did they confront in the colegios? Additionally, how did Nahua-Christians students investigate the indigenous military past? And how did new schooling help or hinder the propagation of calmecac knowledge at the time? This paper seeks answers to these questions by inquiring into a regional education history. It examines pre- and post-contact warrior culture with a focus on first-generation Nahua collegians and highlights indigenous learning modalities that appear to have been reproduced in the Florentine Codex and elsewhere, and I further my dissertation’s exploration of Nahua oral histories, visual and material discursive devices (i.e. war apparel, military technology, and tactics), and songs about military culture.


Garcia Garagarza, speaker
León García Garagarza, Getty Research Institute

Presentation: Fall of a Fragile Empire: Micro-Patriotism, the Postclassic Altepetl, and the Disintegration of the Aztec Triple Alliance

Abstract: During the last, terrible weeks of the siege of Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco in late July of 1521, the Chinampaneca people from Xochimilco, Cuitlahuac, Mexicaltzinco, and Iztapalapa were accused of grievously betraying the defense of the Mexicas. Instead of providing war canoes and supplies to fend off the attacks by the Spaniards and their indigenous allies as they had promised, the Chinampanecas started instead to capture the vulnerable Mexica defenders and to sell them as slaves. The allied Tenochcas and Tlatelolcas retaliated with force, killing the traitors and slaughtering the Xochimilcas still remaining in the city.  The tale of the Chinampaneca betrayal forms a critical episode found in Book 12 of Sahagún’s Florentine Codex, told predominantly from a Tlatelolcan perspective. This paper analyzes the circumstances of this alleged betrayal of the Mexica in the more general context of Central Mexican politics during the contact period. The fall of the Aztec Empire was made possible by the steady erosion of indigenous support to the Aztec hegemon. Cortés masterfully exploited the cracks in the political economy of Central Mexico, gaining allies and crucial logistical support from Cempoala to Tlaxcala, and then from Tetzcoco to Chalco. The Xochimilca debacle narrated in Book 12 represents the coup de grâce that precipitated the fall of the Aztec Empire, now deprived of all means of food and water supply. The episode points to the fragility of the Aztec hegemon and sheds a surprising light on the character of indigenous agency during the conquest of Mexico.


Patrick Johansson, Presenter
Patrick Johansson, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Presentation: The Conquest of Mexico in Nahua Codices (1519 - 1521) 

Abstract: The early stages of the Conquest of Mexico, in 1519, have been referred in Spanish chronicles as well as in Indigenous oral testimonies alphabetically transcribed in manuscripts, thus providing the specific versions of the belligerents about what occurred and how it occurred. The vicissitudes of the Conquest were also painted in books (amoxtli), in a Nahua iconographic writing made of pictograms, ideograms, forms, colors, positions, sizes, and other paradigms semiologically pertinent. According to several sources, Motecuhzoma had sent Indigenous painters (tlahcuilo) to the coast, in order to graphically capture the strangers in a net of pictorial representations that might have a magic effect, and would allow him to make up his mind on what was to be done. These images made in a pre-Hispanic style are lost but a great number of codices, painted during the early colonial period, still remain and show how the Natives perceived some occurrences of the Conquest.  An iconological analysis of the pictography of various codices will reveal this Indigenous perception.


Ilona Katzew, presenter
Ilona Katzew, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Presentation: Performing the Past: Moctezuma's Dance (Mitote) in Colonial Times

Abstract: This talk will address the reenactment of the so-called Moctezuma dance (or mitote) in colonial Mexico and its visual representations. Who performed the dance and within what contexts will be some of the questions addressed. The talk will focus primordially on LACMA’s folding screen of the subject.


Diana Magaloni, speaker

Diana Magaloni Kerpel, Los Angeles County Museum of Art

Presentation: Painting and Writing the Conquest of Mexico-Tenochtitlan in Book 12 of the Florentine Codex

AbstractBook 12 of the Historia general de las cosas de Nueva España, or the Florentine Codex, is the most important indigenous history of the Conquest that has survived to the present day. It was laid out as the whole Florentine Codex: the original text written in Nahuatl by the indigenous authors occupies one column, another parallel column bares the Spanish translation by Bernardino de Sahagún, and a series of 161 framed line drawings accompany the texts in the shorter Spanish column throughout the book. 

The history of the Conquest of Mexico is narrated in 41 chapters. However, the first chapter is different from the rest because it comprises a listing of eight prophecies, tetzahuitl in Nahuatl that are said to have predicted the Conquest ten years before the arrival of the Spaniards to Tenochtitlan.  These famous prophecies are key to understand the complexity of Book 12, both as a chronicle written as a European book, and as a sacred indigenous saga, structured according to the space-time unity—the preeminent cosmological image that can be observed in Codex Fejérváry-Mayer and the Piedra del Sol or Calendar Stone.  In both these fine pieces of Mesoamerican religion we see the space-time unity, or the eight-partitioned cosmos and the center. In this talk I explore how the indigenous writers and painters created a history of the Conquest as a sacred mythological story of the ending and beginning of two world eras. Through the list of eight omens they were able to provide the 40 written and illustrated chapters with a sacred, hidden structure that retraced the earth and gave life to a new time, a new Sun.  The eight tetzahuitl are also key to understand the power of the paintings as a meaningful, sacred third text of the Conquest.   

Oscar Mazin, Presenter
Óscar Mazín Gómez, Colegio de México

Presentation: Christianization of New Spain in the Context of the Spanish Indies 

AbstractChristianity was the official religion of the Spanish Indies. However, numerous native religions existed along with it. Several solutions and proposals had to be taken into account to solve the complex problem of the Christianization of new societies. The symbols and meanings encompassed by religion should be approached as a cultural system thanks to which the Spanish Monarchy succeeded in "Catholicising" the New World. In the context of this process, I am especially interested in identifying New Spain's most remarkable traits and to compare them with Peru since the domains of Spanish America were not isolated from each other but constituted one set of Kingdoms.


Mary Miller, Getty 2019 speaker
Mary Miller, Getty Research Institute

Presentation: Who was Malinche? 

AbstractIn the 16th century, Bernal Díaz expressed his admiration for Malinche; by the 20th century, her name would be irrevocably linked to malinchismo, often described in Mexico as a corrosive preference for all things foreign, even to the point of treachery. Putting aside the distortions of the present, this talk will address the supernatural attributes that accrue to the indigenous woman known as Malinche, Malintzin, and Doña Marina, with particular attention to 16th century texts and beyond that, the visual role she plays even generations after the Spanish Invasion.  




Barbara Mundy, Presenter
Barbara Mundy, Fordham University

Presentation: Lifestyles of Rich Aztecs and Famous Spaniards in Mexico City, 1520 - 1580 

AbstractAfter the Spanish-indigenous defeat of the Mexica of Tenochtitlan, the Spanish Conquistadors made the city--one of the largest in the world at the time--their new home. They occupied the great places of the Mexica nobility around the main plaza, or zócalo. The displaced Mexica elite, however, continued to be powerful figures in Mexico City. In this presentation, I will discuss how the elites of the city used architecture, urban design, and public performances to broadcast their importance to city residents.


Federico Navarrete, speaker

Federico Navarrete, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Presentation: The Tlaxcalan Conquest

AbstractThis paper shall analyze the visual and written histories of the conquest of Mexico produced by the city-state of Tlaxcala in the 16th century, which are perhaps the earliest and most complete version of the events of 1519-1521 and beyond. It shall be Dr. Navarette’s contention that these highly elaborate narratives of the conquest are but a component of a larger tradition of cultural memory constructed also in Tlaxcala, which included ritual performances, public monuments, and cultural landscapes.

Dr. Navarrete will also demonstrate that the Tlaxcalan histories and memories of the conquest cannot be assimilated either to Spanish accounts, even though they strategically appropriate key elements of them, or to Mexica narratives, such as the one presented in the Códice Florentino, and even less to the “visions of the vanquished” as defined by 20th century Mexican historiography. Indeed they explode these categories to present a key but seldom acknowledged perspective, that of the Indigenous conquistadors. Dr. Navarrete will also argue that this particular vision was the most successful and influential version of the conquest during Colonial times, defining the Native conception of the conquest much more than Spanish or Mexica versions.


John Pohl, speaker
John Pohl, California State University, Los Angeles and University of California, Los Angeles 

Presentation: The After-Conquest: Indigenous Strategies of Empowerment in the Early Modern Global World

Abstract: The Aztec Empire was only part of the story of cultural development in Mexico prior to the Spanish conquest. While the fall of Tenochtitlan in 1521 may have signaled the official end of one Indian civilization, it heralded the rise of another whose legacy continued throughout the colonial period and persists to the present day.   Negotiation of empowerment took many different courses among indigenous leaders, the church and the Viceroyal administration. Few civilizations have been so effective at transcending such formidable political, social, and economic challenges to demonstrate how epistemic power attributed to “non-Western” peoples should be conceived in Early Modern historical studies.


Kim Richter, speaker
Kim Richter, Getty Research Institute

Presentation: The Roles of Nahua Women in the Mesoamerican War and Conquest

Abstract: Whether heroes, villains, or vanquished, the main protagonists in war and conquest are typically men. In the case of the Spanish conquest of Mexico, the story is no different. Historic narratives have centered on Hernán Cortés, Moteuczoma II, Pedro de Alvarado, Bernal Díaz del Castillo, Cuauhtemoc, Charles V, and other men—with one exception: Malintzin/Malinche/Doña Marina, Cortés’s indigenous female interpreter. But what about the numerous other women directly involved or affected by this war? What roles did they play? Since these women were indigenous, it is not surprising that Spanish accounts provide scant evidence. Similarly, in Nahua culture, war was the domain of men, so Nahua accounts likewise focus on the accomplishment of men. However, a careful review of historical texts, both Spanish and Nahua, provide some information about Nahua women’s role in war, which are complemented by depictions of women in Nahua and Nahua-Spanish pictorial manuscripts, key among them Book 12 of the Florentine Codex. This presentation will highlight the varied roles of women in the context of war and conquest ranging from ominous visions, food providers, and collateral damage to slaves, informants, and rebels. Although many Nahua women suffered greatly during the various episodes of the conquest of Mexico, they also played critical roles in diplomacy and resistance.


Russo, CSULA 2019 speaker
Alessandra Russo, Columbia University, New York

Presentation: Rethinking Art History with 1519

Abstract: Inspired by the image painted in the Codex Durán —that has been chosen as one of the icons of the symposium— I will reflect on how, in 1519, the collision between the arts of Renaissance Europe and Mesoamerican arts blew apart the frontiers between visual traditions and “histories of art,” which until then had remained independent of each other. Artists started creating completed unexpected artworks that can hardly be assigned to a stable canon, nor to a single space or time. These novel artistic productions also impacted the vocabulary employed to write about them and, most broadly, the ways in which, yesterday as today, one rethinks about art in scholarship, teaching and curatorship.


Solari and Williams, Speakers
Amara Solari, Pennsylvania State University

Linda Williams, University of Pudget Sound 

Presentation: Coloring Catholicism: Maya Artists, Pigments, and Localized Theology in Early Modern Yucatán

Abstract: In the first decades of the Franciscan evangelical campaign in Yucatan (1540–1580), Maya architects, stonemasons, and painters created dozens of monumental monastic complexes, transforming the peninsula's landscape. Drawing on centuries-old practices of the ancient Maya world, these builders and artists created a remarkable corpus of visual and material culture, one of the largest and most rapid episodes of religious construction in Catholicism or in the New World. This talk will examine one aspect of this impressive artistic movement, the use of specific pigments, particularly Maya Blue, in scenes of traditional Catholic orthodoxy. By tracing the precontact use and associated symbolism of this pigment, it will become apparent that rather than being passive recipients of the new faith, Maya artists actively assisted in the creation of a localized religion, in particular helping to reframe understandings of Christ's life, death, and subsequent role in indigenous communities.


Lisa Sousa, speaker
Lisa Sousa, Occidental College

Presentation: When we collapsed: Nahua Views of the Consequences of Conquest

Abstract: This paper analyzes Nahuatl-language texts and images drawn by Nahua artists in Book 12 of the Florentine Codex that reveal indigenous views of the consequences of the Spanish conquest. In both written and pictorial texts, Nahuas emphasized the devastating realities of their “collapse,” including the destruction of Mexico Tenochtitlan, pillaging of material culture, displacement of the population, disease and epidemics, famine, enslavement of men and women, the collapse of political rule, and the imposition of tribute demands. Using philological, rhetorical, and visual analysis, the paper examines how Nahuas conceived of the consequences of defeat and portrayed their decline in moralistic terms. I argue that this account, written a generation or more after the conquest, reflects both social memories of the war and its aftermath and the realities of the challenges Nahuas faced at the time the texts and images were produced. This account provides an important corrective to the triumphalist narratives of Spanish histories, which rarely acknowledged the dire consequences of the conquest for indigenous peoples.


Terraciano, speaker
Kevin Terraciano, University of California, Los Angeles

Presentation: Nahua Memories of the War of Mexico Tenochtitlan and Tlatelolco 

Abstract: This presentation examines four examples of how Indigenous writers and artists in central Mexico produced narratives that contradicted or undermined the dominant discourse of conquest established by European authors and artists from the late 15th century onward. These named and anonymous Indigenous people, not really known or appreciated until the second half of the 20th century, produced knowledge that has fundamentally changed how some historians understand the early period of contact and process of colonization in the Americas--an extended, ongoing process that has affected all indigenous people everywhere. I suspect that many Native Americans have known all along the differences between their histories and the histories written about them by outsiders. Rather than simply telling their sides of the story, some Native American accounts appear to contest the dominant narrative without referring to the sources that they contradict, or the local oral traditions to which they respond. I will examine the initial encounter and war in Mexico Tenochtitlan, events that are well documented from many different perspectives.  



Thank you for your interest and participation in our 7th Mesoamerican Symposium! 




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: [email protected]

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

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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 AztecsA 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.


Dr. 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.


Dr. 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. 


Dr. 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. 


Dr. 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.


Dr. 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. 


Dr. 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.


Dr. 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.


Dr. 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.


Dr. 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.


Dr. 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.


Dr. 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 sectionlists 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. 


Dr. 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.


Dr. 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

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! 





November 2, 2016 
Dia De Los Muertos Noche de Ofrenda 
3 - 8 pm Fine Arts walkway





June 7- 10, 2016 
Krispy Kreme AHS Fundraiser 
7- 11 am King Hall and Salazar Hall


Art History Society and Art Club 5150

 are excited to bring you Dia De Los Muertos Noche de Ofrenda this Wednesday November 2, from 3-8pm! We are having a celebration for our ancestors and loved ones. We invite you to walk through and celebrate with us. We will be selling Churros, Tamales, Agua Fresca, Pan Dulce, Cafe and the classic flor de muerto Cempazuchitl (Marigold). We will have awesome music and amazing people. 

The Fine Arts Gallery will also be hosting an event and is Free to the public. You can walk through the last day of the Richard Duardo Exhibition and there very own altars as well. There will be an Art Walk/ Open Studios FA115 for students to walk through and see the creative process of our graduate students. We will be around to talk to people who are interested in our art work. 

All in all the night will be filled with amazingness! So come and enjoy it with us! :)

 Hope to see you with a churro in one hand!