April 9, 2012

Guatemalan murals are subject of 2012 ‘Ancient Americas’ lecture

The Murals of San Bartolo and the Mythic Origins of Ancient Maya Gods and Kings” will be the subject of the 2012 Distinguished Lecture in Art of the Ancient Americas to be given this week by Karl Taube, a professor of anthropology at the University of California, Riverside.

Presented by the Department of the History of Art at Johns Hopkins under the direction of Lisa DeLeonardis, the Austen-Stokes Professor in Art of the Ancient Americas, the annual lecture series was created to bring scholarly attention to the rich pre-Hispanic visual culture of Mesoamerica and the Andes. Now in its ninth year, the series fosters collaboration between Johns Hopkins and its partners in the museum and arts communities.

The lecture will take place at 7 p.m. on Thursday, April 12, in 50 Gilman Hall, on the Homewood campus.

As part of his visit, Taube will also give a talk for Johns Hopkins students earlier that day, at 10:30 a.m. in 400 Gilman. The subject of that lecture is “On the Road of Flowers: The Symbolism of Life, Music and Paradise in Mesoamerica and the Greater Southwest.”

The murals of San Bartolo, Guatemala—the subject of the evening lecture—are considered one of the richest visual sources of information about ancient Maya creation mythology. Recognized for their exceptional beauty, the paintings are also among the earliest known, dating to the first century B.C. Discovered in 2001 within a buried chamber, the murals predate the Classic Maya sites of Tikal, Copan and Palenque by hundreds of years, and form an important link between the religious beliefs and practices of the still earlier Olmec and the later Classic Maya.

Taube currently serves as project iconographer for the San Bartolo Project. He has conducted extensive archaeological and linguistic fieldwork in Yucatan and has participated on archaeological projects in Chiapas, Mexico; coastal Ecuador; highland Peru; Copan, Honduras; and in the Motagua Valley of Guatemala. His current research centers on the writing and religious systems of Mesoamerica.

For more information about the lecture, contact the Department of the History of Art at 410-516-7117.