When the Aztec Empire emerged to dominate central Mexico from 1460 to 1519, vast amounts of tribute wealth flowed into the capital city of Tenochtitlan, enabling artists and architects to create sophisticated works on a monumental scale. Confronting a civilization without precedent, some Spanish conquistadors and missionaries looked to the classical past for explanations and parallels were drawn between two great empiresthe Aztec and the Roman.
While many studies dwell on the Aztec gods and the bloody rituals performed in their honor, this groundbreaking book examines little-known episodes in which classicism mediated a dialogue both within and between Mesoamerica and Spain. The authors engage contemporary approaches to cross-cultural analogy, shedding light on the function of monumental arts and religious spectacles and consciously classicizing traditions within empires. A foreword by Leonardo López Luján, director of the Proyecto Templo Mayor, places the comparison of Aztec and Roman empires in historical context. The publication accompanies an exhibition celebrating the bicentennial of Mexican Independence on view March 24 to July 5, 2010, at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Villa.
John M. D. Pohl is adjunct professor in the Department of Art History at the University of California, Los Angeles and has written extensively on ancient Mexico. Claire L. Lyons is curator in the Department of Antiquities at the J. Paul Getty Museum. She contributed to the development of the Getty Research Institute's collections related to the history of archaeology and is coeditor of a volume of essays on comparative colonialism.
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