October 14, 2006 Dr. Susan Evans, "Unraveling the Net Jaguar, An Enigmatic Motif of the International House in Teotihuacan"

         Teotihuacan was the first great city of  the New World, yet there is still much about it that remains mysterious.  We know that the city influenced other Mesoamerican cultures distant from the Highlands of Central Mexico, and hosted people from afar, but the nature of these ties is not well understood.  We also know that the city underwent an internal reorganization that seems to have amounted to a revolution, resulting in the construction of several thousand apartment compounds on a gridded plan, and giving rise to new kinds of iconography:  the jaguar becomes an essential player in the Teotihuacan cosmos.  Jaguars are common in Teotihuacan mural art, and in the art of many Mesoamerican cultures, but only at Teotihuacan do we see a jaguar whose body is a net.  Dr Evans explored this image, looking into the context of the Tetitla compound, and the International House in Teotihuacan, to understand what message the net jaguar figure was trying to convey.

           Susan Toby Evans received her Ph.D. from Pennsylvania State University with a dissertation on agricultural productivity in the Teotihuacan Valley of Mexico during the Late Postclassic, or Aztec period.  Her research at the Teotihuacan Valley village site of Cihuatecpan resulted in the only completely excavated Aztec palace in the Aztec heartland, and her further research into Aztec palaces led to a symposium at Dumbarton Oaks, organized with Joanne Pillsbury. They are co-editors of the symposium volume, Palaces of the Ancient New World.  Evans co-edited with David Webster Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America, an Encyclopedia, and her recent book Ancient Mexico and Central America: Archaeology and Culture History won 2005 Book Award of the Society for American Archaeology.

back to home page