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Arts of the Americas. Professor A. D’Ascoli. Mesoamerica. Early Americas – Aztec & Maya. Mesoamerican & Andean Civilizations. 30,000-8,000 BCE - stone age-highly mobile hunting and gathering groups in pursuit of large game

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Arts of the Americas


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  1. Arts of the Americas Professor A. D’Ascoli

  2. Mesoamerica

  3. Early Americas – Aztec & Maya

  4. Mesoamerican & Andean Civilizations • 30,000-8,000 BCE - stone age-highly mobile hunting and gathering groups in pursuit of large game • 8000-2000 BCE - hunters & gatherers-disappearance of large game leads to switch to small game, gathering, fishing, and beginnings of agriculture and village life • 3500-1700 BCE – Valdivia culture -early ceramics-fertility figurines • 2000-200 BCE - improvements in agriculture, culture, and social structures (Called Pre-Classical Era) • 1300 – 600 BCE - Olmecs beginnings of hieroglyphic writing & calendar usage developments in art, ceramics, weavings, feline cult • 900 – 500 BCE – Olmec monolithic stone heads at Chavín (La Venta)

  5. Mesoamerican & Andean Civilizations • 250 BCE – 1000 CE – Mayan Civilization flourishes in Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras – Mayans also built pyramids, focused on astronomy and believed time moved in cycles every 52 years, animalistic and nature based religion – Palenque and Tikal become great cities – ball games to the death - disappeared due to ecological disaster • 200 BCE – 1000 CE is called the Classical Era- emergence of cities, social stratification; flowering of material culture • 200 BCE – 600 CE – Paracas culture-weaving & mummy bundles • 200 BCE – 200 CE – Nazca culture - Nazca lines, earth drawings • 200 BCE – 700 CE – Moche culture – in Peru; pottery with realistic painting; built pyramids called huacas – disappeared due to earthquake and subsequent ecological damage

  6. Mesoamerican & Andean Civilizations • 300 – 900 CE Monte Albán culture-architecture (city on high, large platform) • 400 – 800 CE – Zapotec culture • 100-800 CE – Teotihuacan Culture -large urban center; Pyramids of the Sun and Moon; theocratic rule, disappeared due to ecological disaster • 600 – 800 CE – Huari culture - rise of large urban cities & empires • 600 – 1000 CE - Tiwanaku culture -monolithic stone architecture

  7. Mesoamerican & Andean Civilizations • 1000-1492 CE – Post Classical Era - Urban, stratified, militarized, imperialistic; no important technological advances • 900 – 1200 CE – Toltec culture - formation of militaristic empires, wars, invasions, population increase & pressure • 1000 – 1476 CE - Cholula, Tarascan, Texcoco and Chimú cultures - very large city at Chan-chan with panaqa burial compounds • 1300 – 1532 CE – Inca Civilization (Tawantinsuyu) - sophisticated and very efficient organizational and administrative structures, road engineering comparable to Romans, destroyed by Spanish conquistador Francisco Pizarro • 1350 – 1521 CE – Aztecs (Mexicas) - militaristic tribute empire, calendars, astronomy, human sacrifice – destroyed by Spanish conquistador Hernan Cortez

  8. Mesoamerican Art • Colossal Head • 900 – 500 BCE • Chavin (La Venta), Mexico • Sculpture • Olmec Culture • There are several of these gigantic heads that have been discovered • Believed to be portraits of Olmec rulers

  9. Mesoamerican Art • Teotihuacan • 350 – 650 CE • Teotihuacan, Mexico • Architecture • Pyramid of the Sun is seen in the back of photo • Teotihuacan was over 9 square miles and was home to approx 150,000 people • Their culture disappeared due to the ecological disaster of depleting their land

  10. Teotihuacan

  11. Mayans

  12. Mesoamerican Art • Tikal • 700 CE • Tikal, Guatemala • Architecture • Mayan Culture • Mayans performed their ritual in the open not in secret • Tikal covers 6 square miles and has 6 pyramidal buildings like this one

  13. Tikal

  14. Mesoamerican Art • Ballgame Field • 700 CE • Tikal, Guatemala • Architecture • Mayan ballgames were part of ritual life • The winners were treated as heroes • The leader of the losing team was sacrificed

  15. Mesoamerican Art • Temple of Inscriptions • 7th century CE • Palenque, Mexico • Architecture • Mayan • This temple is inscribed with the history of the Palenque kings and within it is the grave of Pacal, one of the kings

  16. Mesoamerican Art • Sarcophagus Lid • 683 CE • Palenque, Mexico • Relief Sculpture • Mayan • Lid to Pacal’s tomb inside the Temple of Inscriptions • It represents the fall into the earth to the roots of the tree of life – where the Mayans believed heaven was

  17. Pacal’s Tomb

  18. Mesoamerican Art • Pyramid of Kukulkan (El Castillo) • 800-1200 CE • Architecture • Chichen Itza, Mexico • Each stairway has 91 steps, plus the platform = 365 • On June 21 the stairway reflects the shadow of the serpent • 9 layers represent the region of the dead

  19. Aztec Art - Serpents

  20. Mesoamerican Art • Observatory (Carocal) • 800 – 1200 CE • Chichen Itza, Mexico • Architecture • Thought by some to be an observation tower for the Mayans to follow the procession of the sun and stars

  21. Mesoamerican Art • ChacMool • 800-1200 CE • Chicen Itza, Mexico • Sculpture • Possibly an early ruler of the Maya or Toltecs • Chaac is the rain god – so possibly related

  22. Aztec

  23. Aztec tzompantli

  24. Typical Aztec Temple

  25. Mesoamerican Art • Coatlicue • 15th century CE • Mexico City, Mexico • Sculpture • Aztec culture • Serpent features and skull to show power and fear of Aztec gods

  26. Mesoamerican Art • The Founding of Tenochtitlan • 16th century CE • Aztec Culture • Illuminated Manuscript • From the Codex Mendoza • The skull rack in the right center panel shows the Aztec affinity to human sacrifice • Shows the legend of the Eagle, cactus and serpent in founding the city

  27. Mesoamerican Art • Aztec Calendar • 14th century • Mexico City, Mexico • Relief Sculpture • Aztec • Like the Mayans, the Aztecs believed the world went in cycles • Both calendars end on Dec 22 and Dec 24 in 2012 respectively

  28. Moche Civilization

  29. Mesoamerican Art • Huaca del Sol (Pyramid of the Sun) • 500 CE • Moche Valley, Peru • Architecture • Moche culture • This was destroyed by the Spanish by diverting a river to find gold inside of it • Built of over 143 million mud bricks

  30. Andean Art • Moche Lord with a Feline • 100 BCE – 500 CE • Pottery • Moche Civilization • The Moche were famous for their pottery and gold artifacts • These vessels were buried with the dead

  31. Moche Gold

  32. Early Americas - Inca

  33. Andean Art • Machu Picchu • 1450 CE • Machu Picchu, Peru • Architecture • Incan • Built as a citadel, high in the Andes, this city was never taken by the Spanish conquest – but it was abandoned

  34. Andean Art • Hummingbird • 200 BCE – 200 CE • Nazca Plains, Peru • Relief Sculpture • Hundreds of these designs cover the plain – most cannot be seen except from the air • Lines point to water sources

  35. Nazca Lines

  36. Mesoamerican Erotic Art

  37. Native American Civilizations • 40,000 -10,000 BCE – Migrations from Asia into the Americas • 15,000 – 7,000 BCE – Clovis people - Paleo-Indian hunters spread throughout the North American grasslands into the American Southwest. They manufacture unique projectile (fluted) points knows as Clovis, Folsom, and Sandia, named after respective archeological sites in New Mexico. These Clovis people are big game hunters and sought the mastodon, now extinct • 3500 BCE – Oldest continuous culture in North America appears in Pacific Northwest; create totem poles (mortuary poles) and celebrate potlaches (elaborate ceremonies) • 2000 - 1500 BCE - People in what is now the American Southeast first make pottery

  38. North American Civilizations • 1100 BCE - The canoe comes into regular use among Native American people in the eastern and northeastern sections of the area that is now the United States. • 1000 BCE – 1000 CE - In what is now the United States, mound building characterizes the Eastern and Midwestern native cultures. • 1000 BCE – 1000 CE - In the Southwest: the Hohokam, Pueblo, Anasazi and Mogollan people build irrigation canals, agricultural villages, roads and complex ceremonial centers. • 1000 BCE – 1000 CE - On the Plains, people hunt buffalo on foot and live in fortified, semi-sedentary villages. • 200 BCE – The Hopewell period begins for peoples of the central United States. Large earth mounds are constructed by various groups in the Mississippi and Ohio River valleys.

  39. North American Civilizations • 700 - 1100 CE - The Anasazi culture evolves into its Pueblo period. This is a developmental stage that sees the use of adobe bricks, stone slabs, or mud and sticks in home building. Kivas (underground ceremonial chambers) and cotton fabrics come into use. Around 900, the pueblo (Chaco Canyon includes Pueblo Bonito, Casa Rinconada (kiva), ChetroKetl) structures in the American Southwest are constructed. • 1100 - Hopis in the American Southwest (Chaco Canyon and Pueblo Bonito), use coal for cooking and heating. • 1100 - 1300 - - The Pueblo culture (Anasazi) in the northern Arizona and New Mexico area reaches its height (Pueblo Bonito), with large apartment-type structures and many material goods. • 1150 - The pueblo of Oraibi (north-eastern Arizona) is founded, the oldest continuously occupied town in the present-day United States. • 1275 - - Many Southwest pueblos are abandoned due to drought and Athapaskan raiding parties from the north.

  40. North American Civilizations • 1300 - - Hopis use coal for making pottery. • 1300 - 1600 - - The great Temple Mound or Middle Mississippi civilization flourishes. The highly agricultural civilization is characterized by separate republics, each having a central city, temple mounds and a chief's house. This is one of the greatest North American native civilizations • 1600 - Members of the Franciscan order from Mexico establish missions in Hopi areas (now Arizona and New Mexico)

  41. Early Americas – North America

  42. Native American Art • Haida Mortuary Poles • 1878 • Skedans Village, Canada • Architecture/Sculpture • Pacific Northwest Culture • AKA Totem Poles • Carved to honor a leader on his death • Served spiritual function • From carved out canoes

  43. Native American Art • Mesa Verde • 1200 – 1300 CE • Mesa Verde, Colorado • Architecture • Anasazi Culture • Built around kivas – circular ceremonial underground rooms • These villages were made of adobe mud brick and called Pueblos by the Spaniards • The Anasazi farmed on the mesa above

  44. Native American Art • Great Serpent Mound • 600 BCE – 200 CE • Adams County, Ohio • Architecture • Moundbuilders • Considered the most spectacular of the over 500 mounds in Ohio Valley • Built by Adena Culture • Burial site but what it symbolizes is unknown

  45. Native American Art • Monk’s Mound • 1050 – 1250 CE • Cahokia, Illinois • Architecture • Moundbuilders • Largest of all the mounds • Biggest earthwork construction in North America • Originally rose in 4 stages and reached a height of 100 feet covering 16 acres

  46. Africa

  47. African Civilizations • 6,000,000 – 2,500,000 BCE – first hominids in East African Rift Valley • 600,000 – 200,000 BCE – First use of fire; use of caves as dwellings; first homo sapiens; first stone tool usage • 25,000 – 10,000 BCE – rock paintings in North and South Africa • 6000 – 4000 BCE – The River People emerge along the Nile, Niger and Congo Rivers; The Isonghee of Zaire (Republic of Congo) introduce mathematical abacus; and Cyclopean stone tombs built in Central African Republic area; Spread of agriculture south of the Sahara Desert supporting a growing population, which mastered animal domestication and agriculture

  48. African Civilizations • 5000 – 31 BCE – Egyptian civilization flourishes • 3000 – 800 BCE – Bantu, a linguistically related group of about 60 million people living in equatorial and southern Africa, probably originated in West Africa, migrating downward gradually into southern Africa. The Bantu migration was one of the largest in human history. The cause of this movement is uncertain. • 750 BCE – 600 CE – The Kush appear in Nubia ; place capital at Meroe; bronze; were a fierce rival of Egypt • 500 BCE 700 CE– Axum; The Aksumites were a people formed from the mix of Kushitic speaking people in Ethiopia and Semitic speaking people in southern Arabia who settled the territory across the Red Sea ; rose to power from 400 – 700 CE • 500 BCE – 200 CE Ancient Nok culture thrives in forests of central Nigeria.  Claimed by the Yoruba peoples as ancestors, the Nok are justly revered for their art and terra cottas.