Fifteen hundred years ago, Teotihuacan was one of the world's greatest cities. Some 200,000 people lived in this Mexican metropolis, with its massive public buildings, grid plan of streets and imposing murals and sculpture. Its trading empire dominated much of ancient Mexico. Then, in the 8th century, came a mysterious collapse. Even knowledge of the original name was lost: Teotihuacan, "City of the Gods", was a title bestowed by the Aztecs six hundred years later. Published in conjunction with an exhibition organized by The Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, this volume brings together for the first time the fruits of researches that are at last unveiling Teotihuacan. Over a dozen distinguished scholars examine every aspect of the city's culture, from its role as an urban centre, its religion and writing system, to its imposing pyramid-temples and superlative art. A splendid array of rarely seen masterpieces, from jewellery, greenstone masks and elegant blackware to figurines and elaborate wall paintings, provides visual proof of the magnificence of Teotihuacan's culture.
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Easily accessible from Mexico City and endlessly frequented, the ruins of the Pre-Columbian metropolis of Teotihuacan have articulated only some of their secrets. On the occasion of an unprecedented exhibition, this useful volume provides a handsomely illustrated, suitably described, and well-selected sampling from the city's painting, sculpture, and ceramic traditions. Complementing the catalog is a mixed bag of essays that are intended to introduce the serious lay reader to the current state of Teotihuacan scholarship. Among the most compelling are a provocative effort not only to describe the city's growth but also to reconstruct its "history" and editor Pasztory's penetrating reading of the distinctive formal and iconological qualities of its art. Also included are a summary of recent archaeological work at the site, an overview of the perplexing problem of the "writing" system, and a most tenuous thesis concerning the city's role in the history of the sacred calendar. An essential addition to collections concerned with the art and archaeology of Mesoamerica.
- Robert Cahn, Fashion Inst. of Technology,
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc.
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