It is often assumed that children do not really occur in medieval art. The problem for researchers is not so much one of finding representations of childhood, but of recognizing them. Medieval art has its own conventions and if we approach it with a present-minded attitude we are indeed likely to find only ‘miniature adults’ at best. This easily leads to a conclusion that medieval society neither knew nor understood the concept of childhood. Yet size and proportion can be deceptive: medieval art does not necessarily meet modern standards of naturalism and a small figure need not represent a child. This chapter considers representations of children in early medieval art, including memorials and monuments, placing these images in their artistic, iconological, and theological contexts.
This chapter examines the development of a distinctive early Christian genre: the icon. It does so by taking a relatively unknown, but important, example of a devotional panel in a U.S. collection with a (now) anonymous warrior saint trampling a demon while on horseback. This icon permits a methodological rumination on the means by which we come to think we know the historical meaning of such an object: our art historical premises, our photographic and museological knowledge of objects, and our own assumption about what constitutes a real “subject” in the past and in the present. This chapter attempts a kind of archaeology, an examination of strata in the icon, but really an anarchéologie of the icon, by which archaeology is problematized, undermined, in order to reveal the ways in which our culture has produced its histories.
Eduardo Matos Moctezuma
This chapter discusses the Mexica monumental sculptures uncovered in downtown Mexico City during the late eighteenth century, including the Coatlicue and Tlaltecuhtli sculptures, and the Sun Stone. Other important Mexica archaeological ruins of Tenochtitlan were unearthed during the nineteenth century. The discovery of a stone sculpture of the goddess Coyolxauhqui at base of the Templo Mayor in 1978 led to the excavation of the structure as part of the Proyecto Templo Mayor (Templo Mayor Project). This project has collected data on more than 40 Mexica structures in the heart of Mexico City, including numerous offerings and other important information regarding Aztec history. Some significant findings in recent years include the discovery of several important structures, including the cuauhxicalco, ballcourt, and tzompantli The recent discovery of a stone sculpture of the earth goddess Tlaltecuhtli has also provided essential data, particularly in terms of the offerings found beneath and around the sculpture.
Kevin Conti and William Walker
This chapter explores the performance of light and shadows in two ancestral Pueblo rock art sites in southeast Utah. These sites possess anthropomorphic rock faces and modified features to create both anthropomorphic and zoomorphic images that we argue derive from mythological traditions of Pueblo peoples. Specifically, light/shadow patterns at these sites produce and interact with Bear and War Twin imagery on prominent dates of the solar calendar. Traditionally such imagery would be approached through rock art studies in terms of motifs and symbolic interpretations. The celestial component would be addressed by archaeoastronomers. Using object agency theory, we seek to contextualize these data as places where people communicated with their Bear and War Twin deities.
Alexandra Chavarría Arnau
The archaeology of early Christian churches has made important advancements in recent decades in Italy thanks to a large number of new excavations and scientific meetings, as well as the development of the project CARE (Corpus Architecturae Religiosae Europeae (IV–X saec.)), in which most Italian specialists are involved. This chapter suggests new lines of research, thus contributing to a revised historiography of the archaeology of early Christian churches in Italy between the fourth century and the end of the sixth century. It surveys some of the ecclesiastical complexes that have been reanalyzed in recent decades or recently discovered through archaeological excavations.
J. D. Lewis-Williams
Archaeological remains testify to the spread of goods and ideas over broad areas of Mesoamerica at different times throughout its prehispanic history. However, most material expansions are unaccompanied by texts, so it is difficult to identify which resulted from empires, and which from other types of interaction, like trade, gift giving, and emulation. In contrast, the Aztec Empire, which dominated central Mexico during its final pre-conquest years, is known to us mostly through documents written during and after its overthrow by Spaniards in 1521. Ironically, the material remains do not match the expectations raised by the documents. More relics have been excavated and studied in the last few decades than previously, but relatively few scholars have yet engaged with their evidence. This article shows how the imagery of sculptures can supplement and refine our notions of Aztec strategies.
The art of the catacombs was born in Rome between the second and third centuries and is manifested especially in the pictorial decorations of the cubicula and other hypogeal environments. The extremely simplified artistic typology echoes the Second Pompeian style through the use of red and green lines that run across the walls and the faces of the monuments. Initially this grid contained neutral figures selected from the pagan repertoire; later those images were replaced by Christian scenes inspired by biblical and salvific imagery. The art of the catacombs also includes funerary sculpture, particularly sarcophagi, and the so-called minor arts, such as gilded glass, ivory dolls, and mosaic tesserae. The catacombal decorations ended at the beginning of the fifth century, when funerary use ceased in these subterranean cemeteries.
The Mesoamerican Classic period (ca. 250–900
This chapter examines the relationship between art and society in Iron Age Europe, with a focus on Celtic art. It begins by asking what constituted ‘art’ in this context, what was its purpose, and why did Celtic craftworkers and their patrons develop a taste for entirely new ‘artistic’ expressions? The art of the Hallstatt and La Tène periods, external influences on its development across Europe, and regional expressions are then analysed. Initially decorative art was essentially confined to objects of metal and stone, and most artworks belonged to the categories of personal ornaments and weaponry, bronze vessels for the consumption of alcohol, and chariot equipment. This contrasts with the more widespread use of ‘art’ in the contemporary Mediterranean world. In the later La Tène period, the range of decorated objects grew to include painted vases and monumental wooden sculpture.