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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