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.
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.
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