May 14, 2016 Penn Museum Caitlin Earley, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Art, University of Nevada, Reno: "A Place So Far Removed: Power and Identity in Sculptures from the Ancient Maya Frontier"

   In the Comitán Valley of Chiapas, Mexico, several large Maya centers flourished in the Late Classic (600-900 CE) and Early Postclassic periods (900-1250 CE). These centers left behind monumental architecture, elaborate burials, and over fifty inscribed stone monuments—yet they are almost completely absent from scholarly reconstructions of Maya history. In this paper, I present the results of the first comprehensive study of the art of the Comitán Valley. I argue that the monumental sculpture of the Comitán Valley participated in widespread customs of Maya artistic representation, but it did so using local styles and iconographic motifs. From the captives of Tenam Puente to the caves of Quen Santo, this paper suggests that the Comitán Valley was not a culturally impoverished frontier; instead, rulers of sites in this area created sophisticated artistic programs based on warfare, ritual, and power.

 Caitlin Earley is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Nevada, Reno. She earned her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, where she specialized in ancient Maya sculpture. Her doctoral project documented and analyzed carved stone monuments from Chiapas, Mexico, and what they reveal about power and identity in the ancient Maya world. Caitlin maintains a wide array of research interests, publishing and presenting on the iconography of kingship, the Maya ballgame, and Preclassic artistic motifs. Her current project, which she will develop as a fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in 2016-17, focuses on violence and the depiction of captives in Mesoamerican art. A native of Alexandria, VA, Caitlin graduated from Williams College with a B.A. in English, and earned her M.A. in Art History from the University of Texas at Austin.

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