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ARTH307: Arts of Latin America

Unit 1: The Ancient Americas   A survey of the major arts and architecture of the pre-Columbian world, this unit introduces Mesoamerican and Andean cultures from the earliest known civilizations to the time of European contact and conquest.  The unit proceeds chronologically within each region, setting out “mother cultures,” the Olmec and the Chavín, then traces the continuation of artistic, ritual, social, and cultural practices in later civilizations.  Seeking to debunk popular myths, from the Mayan apocalypse to the Nazca lines, the unit explores the richness of the pre-Hispanic tradition through study of such topics as the colossal Olmec heads, the monumental pyramids at Teotihuacán, and Inca stonework at Machu Picchu.

Unit 1 Time Advisory
This unit should take you approximately 26.5 hours to complete.

☐    Subunit 1.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2: 13 hours
 

☐    Subunit 1.2.1: 2 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2.2: 1 hour

☐    Subunit 1.2.3: 4 hours
 

☐    Subunit 1.2.3.1: 3.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.2.3.2: 1 hour
 

☐    Subunit 1.2.4: 1.5 hours
 

☐    Subunit 1.3: 11.5 hours
 

☐    Subunit 1.3.1: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3.2: 1.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3.3: 2.5 hours

☐    Subunit 1.3.4: 5 hours

Unit1 Learning Outcomes
Upon completion of this unit, the student will be able to: - Trace the general evolution of ancient Mesoamerican and Andean art over approximately three millennia. - Discuss representative examples of pre-Columbian art in terms of style and theme. - Distinguish similarities and differences between the visual cultures of Mesoamerica and the Andes. - Explain the relationship between pre-Columbian artworks and the broader social, religious, economic, and political contexts in which they functioned. - Relate artistic practices seen in later civilizations back to prior precedents and compare later interpretations of common subjects and themes.

1.1 Introduction to Pre-Columbian Art   - Web Media: Mesa Community College’s “Peopling of the New World” Link: Mesa Community College’s “Peopling of the New World” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read through the slide presentation, clicking the right arrow at the bottom of the page to view the slides.  This text provides a straightforward overview of the earliest settlers of the New World, taking into account various perspectives from anthropology and linguistics.
 
Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.
           
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  • Reading: famsi.org: John Pohl’s Mesoamerica: “Introduction” and “Chronology” Link: famsi.org: John Pohl’s Mesoamerica: “Introduction” and “Chronology” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Click on the links below the corresponding titles to access the reading.  John Pohl’s “Mesoamerica” provides a clear overview of Mesoamerican art and archaeology, and you may find his survey a useful reference for the first half of this unit.  Read carefully through the entire “Introduction” and “Mesoamerican Timeline,” which preview the civilizations that you will study and define key terminology (e.g., Mesoamerica, Postclassic).
               
    Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2 The Mesoamerican World   1.2.1 The Olmec   - Reading: doaks.org: Karl A. Taube’s Olmec Art at Dumbarton Oaks: “Introduction: The Origin and Development of Olmec Research” Link: doaks.org: Karl A. Taube’s Olmec Art at Dumbarton Oaks“Introduction: The Origin and Development of Olmec Research” (PDF)
 
Instructions: Click on the link to download the book, Olmec Art at Dumbarton Oaks.  Taube’s text begins on page 1, but do note the prefatory chronology and maps (pp. xv-xviii), which may be helpful guides.  Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection in Washington, D.C. houses one of the premier collections of pre-Columbian art in the world, and its Olmec holdings are among the highlights. 
 
A scholarly text, this reading surveys the history of Olmec studies and introduces major works and archaeological sites.  Read less for the details than for the broader thematic ideas and basic explanatory information (e.g., the explanation of the axis mundi, the discussion of different carving materials, and the conventions of Olmec iconography).  Be sure to scroll down to the Plates to see the objects referred to in the text.  This is one of the longest texts assigned for this course, but it provides a clear orientation to the nature of archaeological research and many of the terms and ideas that characterize our study of Mesoamerican art in general.  Many scholars consider the Olmec a “mother culture” for Mesoamerica, and we will trace their influence through the later Teotihuacano, Mayan, and Aztec civilizations.
 
Expect to spend approximately 2 hours on this reading.
 
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1.2.2 Teotihuacán   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Teotihuacán” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Teotihuacán” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read through the main text (“Teotihuacán”) and three related Primary Thematic Essays (“Pyramids of the Sun and the Moon,” “Ciudadela,” and “Mural Painting”) linked through a drop-down menu on the left-hand side of the page.  Spend time reviewing the different images cited in the text.
 
Expect to spend approximately 45 minutes on this reading.
 
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  • Web Media: unesco.org’s “Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacán” Link: unesco.org’s “Pre-Hispanic City of Teotihuacán” (YouTube)
               
    Instructions: Watch the film, paying close attention to the scale of the architecture. 
     
    Expect to spend approximately 15 minutes watching the film, taking notes as needed.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.3 The Maya   - Web Media: famsi.org: Walter R. T. Witschey and Clifford T. Brown’s “Visualizing Maya Settlement: the Electronic Atlas meets Google Earth” Link: famsi.org: Walter R. T. Witschey and Clifford T. Brown’s “Visualizing Maya Settlement: the Electronic Atlas meets Google Earth” (HTML)
 
Instructions: There are different ways to access this resource, as the webpage explains.  Once you have successfully opened the file, either in your web browser or through the Google Earth application, spend time browsing the different Mayan sites.  Although our course will emphasize production at Tikal and Palenque, you may also be interested to browse such other sites as Copán, Chichén Itzá, Yaxchilán, and Uxmal.
 
Spend approximately 60 minutes exploring this site.
 
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1.2.3.1 Royal Courts and Ceramics   - Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Tikal” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Tikal” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read through the main text (“Tikal”) and two related Primary Thematic Essays (“Sacred Architecture” and “Stone Sculpture”) linked through a drop-down menu on the left-hand side of the page.  Spend time reviewing the different images cited in the texts.         
 
Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.
 
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  • Lecture: iTunes U: National Geographic Live’s “Palenque and the Ancient Maya World” Link: iTunes U: National Geographic Live’s “Palenque and the Ancient Maya World” (iTunes)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above and select “View in iTunes” to watch the lecture.  Archaeologists George and David Stuart provide a comprehensive and well-illustrated overview of the site and the history of archaeological work undertaken there.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 90 minutes watching the lecture, with pauses to take notes. 
     
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  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Mayan Art of the Americas” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: “Mayan Art of the Americas” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Explore each of the artworks on this page, making sure to click on the images to access more detailed information.  Make use of the related materials (e.g., maps, timelines) as needed.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this exercise.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.2.3.2 Culture   - Reading: decipherment.wordpress.com: David Stuart’s Maya Decipherment: “Q & A about 2012” Link: decipherment.wordpress.com: David Stuart’s Maya Decipherment: “Q & A about 2012” (HTML)
 
Instructions: David Stuart, whose lecture on Palenque you have seen, writes a weblog on Maya script.  This is an entry that unpacks the myths surrounding the Mayan calendar and the year 2012.
 
Expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on this reading.
 
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  • Reading: mesoweb.com: Marc Zender’s “Sport, Spectacle and Political Theater: New Views of the Classic Maya Ballgame” Link: mesoweb.com: Marc Zender’s “Sport, Spectacle and Political Theater: New Views of the Classic Maya Ballgame” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Download the paper to read about the Maya ballgame and its ritual functions.

    Expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on this reading.
     
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1.2.4 The Aztecs   - Lecture: iTunes U: Northwestern University: Elizabeth Brumfiel’s “Touring ‘The Aztec World’ with Professor Elizabeth Brumfiel” Link: iTunes U: Northwestern Univerity: Elizabeth Brumfiel’s “Touring ‘The Aztec World’ with Professor Elizabeth Brumfiel” (iTunes)
 
Instructions: Click on the link above and select “View in iTunes” to watch the lecture.  Professor Brumfiel describes a number of objects included an exhibition that she organized on the Aztecs for The Field Museum. 
 
The video runs just under 5 minutes.
 
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  • Reading: famsi.org: Manuel Aguilar-Moreno’s “Aztec Art and Architecture – Text and Images” Link: famsi.org: Manuel Aguilar-Moreno’s “Aztec Art and Architecture – Text and Images” (PDF)
     
    Instructions: Download the reading through the link on the webpage (make sure to download the version with both art and architecture).  Aguilar-Moreno gives a clear and comprehensive overview of Aztec arts.  As you read through his texts, reflect on the changes and continuities in Mesoamerican art from the Olmec through the Maya and now the Aztec civilizations. 
     
    In the first part of the text (“Aztec Art”), read the “Introduction” and the section on “The Aztec Artists and Craftsmen” for an overview of the Aztecs and their history.  Then focus your reading around the following objects: “Teocalli of the Sacred War (Temple Stone);” “The Sun Stone;” “The Stones of Tizoc and Motecuhzome I;” “Coatlicue;” “Coyolxauhqui Relief;” “Head of Coyolxauhqui;” “Xochipilli (God of Flowers);” and the section, “Feather Work.”
     
    In the second part of the text (“Aztec Architecture”), first read through the “Introduction,” “Types of Architecture,” and “Building Materials and Techniques.”  Then read “The Precinct of Tenochtitlán,” focusing on the following sections: “Introduction;” “Urbanism;” “Ceremonial Plaza;” “The Great Temple;” and “Myths Symbolized in the Great Temple.”
     
    Expect to spend approximately 90 minutes on this reading.
     
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1.3 The Andean World   - Reading: jqjacobs.net: James Q. Jacobs’s “Prehistory of the Andean Peoples” Link: jqjacobs.net: James Q. Jacobs’s “Prehistory of the Andean Peoples” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read this text for an overview of the earliest Andean peoples, a brief summary of later pre-Hispanic civilizations, and a description of the region’s economy and geography.
 
Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.
 
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1.3.1 The Chavín   - Reading: jqjacobs.net: James Q. Jacobs’s “Understanding Chavín and the Origins of Andean Civilization” Link: jqjacobs.net: James Q. Jacobs’s “Understanding Chavín and the Origins of Andean Civilization” (HTML)
 
Instructions: This text describes the site at Chavín and should be read as a companion to John Rick’s “Exploring Chavín de Huántar” (below). 
 
Plan to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.
 
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  • Web Media: Stanford University: John Rick’s “Exploring Chavín de Huántar” Link: Stanford University: John Rick’s “Exploring Chavín de Huántar” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Note that this site requires the Zoom Viewer plug-in, which only works with Internet Explorer (Windows or an older Mac version); the download is available through a link on the home page. Due to these compatability restrictions, this resource is optional.
     
    Browse through each of the sections (“Setting,” “Old Temple,” “New Temple”) and their panoramas, acquainting yourself with Chavín de Huántar.  Then consider the questions posted under the Discussion tab.  These are open-ended questions with no right or wrong answers – use them to reflect on the evidence from the site and to consider how historians interpret archaeological data.
     
    Plan to spend approximately 30 minutes on the lab.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Reading: jqjacobs.net: James Q. Jacobs’s “The Tello Obelisk a Chavín de Huántar Sculpture” Link: jqjacobs.net: James Q. Jacobs’s “Understanding Chavín and the Origins of Andean Civilization” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: This reading examines the iconography of the Tello Obelisk, one of the most symbolically charged and important examples of Chavín sculpture.
     
    Plan to spend approximately 60 minutes on this reading.
     
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1.3.2 Paracas & Nasca   - Reading: BBC: A History of the World’s “Paracas Textile” Link: BBC: A History of the World’s “Paracas Textile” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read through the text, making sure to click on the link, “See the Paracas Textile,” to see examples of textile fragments. 
 
Expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on this reading.
 
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  • Reading: UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s “Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana” Link: UNESCO World Heritage Centre’s “Lines and Geoglyphs of Nasca and Pampas de Jumana” (HTML, YouTube)
     
    Instructions: Read through the text under the “Description” tab, and then look at the “Map,” “Gallery,” and short “Video,” which provides an aerial tour of the geoglyphs.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 45 minutes on these reading.
     
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1.3.3 Moche   - Reading: huacas.com’s “Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna” Link: huacas.com’s “Las Huacas del Sol y de la Luna” (HTML)
 
Instructions: Read through each of the links on the site’s home page (you may omit “Research at the Site” and “The Autors”). 
 
Expect to spend approximately 90 minutes on this reading.
 
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  • Reading: National Geographic: Kelly Hearn and Ted Chamberlain’s “‘King of Bling’ Tomb Sheds Light on Ancient Peru” Link: National Geographic: Kelly Hearn and Ted Chamberlain’s “‘King of Bling’ Tomb Sheds Light on Ancient Peru” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read through the article, making sure to click through the links within the text to see photographs of the tomb and its contents.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 20 minutes on this reading.
     
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  • Reading: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Hélène Bernier’s “Moche Decorated Ceramics” Link: The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History: Hélène Bernier’s “Moche Decorated Ceramics” (HTML)
     
    Instructions: Read through this essay, making sure to view the slideshow of artworks at the top of the page.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 30 minutes on this reading.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

1.3.4 The Inca   - Web Media: SUNY Oneonta: Renee Walker’s “Incan Empire” Link: SUNY Oneonta: Renee Walker’s “Incan Empire” (PPT)
 
Instructions: Scroll down to the bottom of the webpage and click on the link, “Inca.”  Read through the PowerPoint presentation, taking notes on its comprehensive examination of Inca art, architecture, culture, and dynastic history.
 
Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes reading through this presentation.
 
Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.

  • Lecture: iTunes U: National Geographic Live’s “Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham and Machu Picchu” Link: iTunes U: National Geographic Live’s “Cradle of Gold: The Story of Hiram Bingham and Machu Picchu” (iTunes)
     
    Instructions: Click on the link above and select “View in iTunes” to watch the lecture.  Christopher Heaney describes the twentieth-century “discovery” of Machu Picchu, its treasure, and its historical importance in shaping the politics of archaeological fieldwork.
     
    Expect to spend approximately 60 minutes watching and taking notes on this lecture.
     
    Terms of Use: Please respect the copyright and terms of use displayed on the webpage above.