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.
Ray Hernández Durán
Following the Spanish Conquest, responses to Aztec art were varied. While architecture and many sacred sculptures were demolished and their material remains recycled into new construction, other works were either repurposed to fulfill new functions in the colonial setting or sent to Europe where they were collected and admired. Certain Aztec art forms persisted after the Conquest but with various adaptations or reformulations, as seen in manuscript production and featherwork. Other Colonial artworks, for example sculpture and wall paintings, evince the influence of indigenous esthetics, techniques, and forms, evident in sculpture and wall painting. Eventually, Aztec objects transitioned from being perceived as exotic curiosities in royal collections and world’s fairs to historical and archaeological artifacts to works of art appreciated by audiences in Mexico, as signifiers of national identity and indigenous achievement, and in museum exhibitions abroad where Aztec art often continues to be enigmatic, misunderstood, or unknown.
Aztec religion and the Central Mexican divinatory calendar were intrinsically linked. Focusing on the Aztec conception of art and artists, this chapter presents an overview of how art Aztec art (sculpture, painting, carving, weaving, etc.) and architecture served as an expression of Aztec religion, the calendar, and an overall view of the cosmos. Aztec art addressed the past, both in commemorating historic events, and in recalling and referencing the accomplishments of past cultures, collectively referred to as Toltecs. Art also celebrated past, present, and future periodicities that served as evidence of divine action in the world – particularly action on behalf of the ruling elite and, in the case of the Aztecs of Tenochtitlan, divine approbation of empire. Hence Aztec works usually combine references to what we today would consider mundane historical events and actions with images of divinities and supernatural concepts.
Cynthia L. Otis Charlton and Alejandro Pastrana
Objects of Aztec lapidary work carry great visual impact in contrast to their relatively scarce actual numbers. A combination of historical documents and modern locational techniques has enabled some insight into the movement of lapidary objects and raw material through the Aztec Empire through tribute and trade. To date, the only found and excavated Late Postclassic Aztec lapidary workshops come from Otumba in the northeast Basin of Mexico. Lapidary work itself was a highly specialized process performed by skilled artisans. Replication experimentation and the aid of such techniques as scanning electron microscopy have clarified some questions about how lapidary objects were actually produced. They have also had the unexpected benefit of revealing a change in workshop organization between the Middle and Late Postclassic Aztec lapidary production of offerings at the Templo Mayor in Tenochtitlan.
Elizabeth Hill Boone
The Aztecs recorded knowledge and wrote down the historical events of their past in painted books, now called codices, in which historical information was encoded in a pictographic writing system of figures and symbols, which were displayed along folded strips of hide and paper or across broad cotton cloths. These historical books were either organized by time, as in annals where events are painted adjacent to the year signs of a sequential count, or by geography, as in cartographic histories where events are recorded according to their location. Two broad historical themes dominate: the long migration from a place of origin or ancestral homeland (usually Aztlan) to the place where they established their capital, and the subsequent development and expansion of the polity. Guarded in royal libraries, these books affirmed the autonomy of the altepetl by recounting and preserving its history.
In the famous projects of ancient Egyptian architecture, sunlight had always a special role. An expert use of light and shadows helped in creating halls filled with sacredness in many temples; but most of all the Sun was the visible face of Ra, the Sun God. As a consequence, religious and funerary architectural projects were connected with the sun rays on special days of the year through astronomical alignments. The chapter focuses on a few key examples—the Akhet hierophanies at Giza and Amarna, and the winter solstice alignment at Karnak—showing the potentialities of modern archaeoastronomy in understanding key aspects of ancient Egyptian monuments and religion.
This chapter examines X-ray art in western Arnhem Land in northern Australia, considering how relatively contemporary artists used it to enrich the meaning of their work. After discussing early research on the meanings of X-ray and developing interpretations of art of the ancestors, the chapter explores the use of X-ray representation in rock art in western Arnhem Land, then analyzes the use of art in ceremony, focusing on Mardayin and Lorrkon, as well as the production of bark paintings made for sale through commercial outlets. It shows that understanding X-ray imagery helps to create intellectual connections between many areas of experience of the world. The chapter looks at the first creators, Yingarna and Ngalyod the rainbow serpents, and their role in promoting creative uses of X-ray infill and concludes that art helps initiates understand the powers of Djang not only as corporeal entities but also in more metaphysical terms.
The most intensively studied societies within Southwest archaeology—the Ancestral “Pueblos”—have been defined by their architecture. Stark village ruins of stone and adobe, some perched high in cliff settings, dot much of the region and are today its major tourist attractions. But as this chapter demonstrates, the architecture and built landscapes of the greater Southwest were vastly more diverse, ranging from the ephemeral wikiup-like structures of early hunter-gatherers, to the various pithouse forms and configurations of the Archaic and later periods, to the monumental trincheras, ball courts, and platform mounds of the southern Southwest, to the great kivas, great houses, and road systems of the Chacoan world. This chapter surveys that diversity and considers the way the built environment has been mobilized as evidence to make claims about social and political organization, religion practice, cosmology, mobility, and scale of collective labor projects within studies of ancient Southwest communities.
This photo essay outlines the experimental work undertaken in summer 2007 in Çatalhöyük in Anatolia, Turkey, while the author was the artist in residence. The work done in this Neolithic settlement led to the discovery of a sun clock, i.e. a beam of light present in each dwelling entering from the roof and drifting like a sun dial to different areas of the house. The parallelogram of light produced by the beam created a pattern of light and shadow, showing the archaeological importance of shadows and their power to reveal aspects of people’s lives in the settlement. Based on the study of the shadows observed and filmed in Çatalhöyük indoors and outdoors, this chapter examines the functions and purposes of selected shadows that show how approaching archaeology from an artist’s viewpoint can enhance interpretation, understanding, and the production of knowledge.
Children’s Burial Grounds (cillíní) in Ireland: New Insights into an Early Modern Religious Tradition
Colm J. Donnelly and Eileen M. Murphy
Children’s burial grounds (cillíní) are a recognized class of Irish archaeological monument that were used as the designated burial places for unbaptized infants among the Roman Catholic population. The evidence from historical and archaeological studies indicates a proliferation in the use of cillíní following the 17th century and that the tradition continued in use until the mid 20th century. This can be linked with the rise of Counter-Reformation Catholicism and the role played in Ireland by the Franciscans of Louvain, who were strong Augustinianists. The chapter reviews the development of new burial legislation in the Victorian era and suggests that this led the Church to take greater responsibility for the burial of the unbaptized through the creation of unconsecrated burial plots in Catholic cemeteries. The end of the tradition can be ascribed to the reforms undertaken within the Church as a result of the Second Vatican Council in the 1960s.
Based on recent archaeological excavations, this chapter presents an overview of the Christianization of Gaul through buildings and topography. Over the last few decades, our knowledge of the organization of episcopal complexes in cities and funerary areas has been significantly advanced despite the small number of artifacts, many of which are poorly dated. The study of Christianization in the countryside is a more recent development, even though many Roman villas reused by churches in the Early Middle Ages have been excavated. New research shows the greater complexity of the situation, including settlement forms beyond villas and a variety of churches such as episcopal relays, funerary churches, and monasteries.