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Teotihuacan: City of Water City, of Fire

Teotihuacan: City of Water City, of Fire



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Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire captures just about everything that we now know about one of the most influential yet obscure civilizations of Mesoamerica. The readable essays are geared toward anyone from college students to doctorates, while the copious and detailed photographs are appealing to readers with an interest in archaeology or simply a general sense of wonder.

Teotihuacan is not even that old, but its origins are already obscure. Founded in the 1st century CE and located within the Valley of Mexico, Teotihuacan was once the “most populous city in the Americas,” and probably among the five or ten largest urban areas in the world until 500 CE, according to a suitably titanic and lavish multidisciplinary exhibition catalog recently assembled by the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco-de Young and the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This lovely boulder of a book covers in vibrant photographs and detailed essays one of the most influential yet obscure civilizations of Mesoamerica. The people of Teotihuacan may be gone - or, as is likely the case, have been subsumed into succeeding cultures - but through their surviving architecture and artwork, we have been able to reasonably assess some understanding of their legacy.

The readable essays here are geared toward anyone from college students to doctorates, while the copious and detailed photographs are appealing to anyone with an interest in archaeology or simply a general sense of wonder. The sheer fact that, despite intensive research, we simply do not currently know much at all about the Teotihuacan civilization aside from educated guesswork based on ruins and artifacts only adds to the book’s allure.

Edited by Matthew H. Robb, chief curator of the Fowler Museum at the University of California, Los Angeles, Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire seeks to sift the secrets of this nebulous city from what remains. Robb collects the science and suppositions of 20 additional experts, whose works range from “A Speculative History of Teotihuacan” to “Pumas Eating Human Hearts? Animal Sacrifice and Captivity at the Moon Pyramid”, and from “The Storm God: Lord of Rain and Ravage” to “The Colors of Time: Teotihuacan Mural Painting Tradition”.

The sweeping range of discourse covers archaeology, architecture, theology, anthropology, history & art - a full pantheon of study meant to satisfy even the most demanding reader.

This sweeping range of discourse covers archaeology, architecture, theology, anthropology, history, and art - a full pantheon of study meant to satisfy even the most demanding and educated reader. But even this swirl of subjects cannot answer the fundamental questions of Teotihuacan that have eluded explorers since the Aztecs: what made this city the very first metropolis of the Western Hemisphere, attracting migrants from across the region to its intricate religious and artistic impulses; its relative stability, due assumedly to the standing military that a wealthy city-state could afford; and particularly to its booming economy. Teotihuacan’s affluence was centered on what was immediately available: fish and waterfowl from the adjacent Lake Texcoco; timber and wild game from the surrounding forests; and basalt, obsidian, lime and chert from nearby mining sites.

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire comprises a three-part introduction that admits to science’s “speculative history” of the city, six diverse and wide-ranging essays, and two thoroughly detailed discussions about the problematic mapping of the city’s ruins.

This comprises the first 200 pages, after which are another 200 pages of meticulous photographs of objects collected in last year’s exhibition at San Francisco’s de Young Museum. These echo the diversity of the essay topics: “Mirror with Jaguar Mosaic”, serpentine masks, standing figures and incised shells, stonework, ceramics, murals, and more, all meticulously assigned to the various regions of the city from which they were recovered. This is all we know, and perhaps all we need to know; the quality of these carefully retrieved artifacts is such that they can speak for themselves.

Solidly and exquisitely published by the redoubtable University of California Press, Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire captures just about everything that we now know regarding this cryptical all-American city, the role model for future metropolises such as Tikal, Monte Alban, and Teotihuacan’s ultimate inheritor, the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlán.


Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire will explore how artworks from the ancient city shape our understanding of Teotihuacan as an urban environment. One of the earliest, largest, and most important cities in the ancient Americas, Teotihuacan is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited archaeological site in Mexico. The exhibition, organized in collaboration with Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), will feature recent, never-before-seen archaeological discoveries and other major loans from Mexican and US cultural institutions. Monumental and ritual objects from Teotihuacan’s three pyramids will be shown alongside mural paintings, ceramics, and stone sculptures from the city’s apartment compounds. By bringing these pieces together, and encouraging visitors to understand the context of specific sites within the city, the exhibition will provide a rare opportunity for Bay Area audiences to experience a significant place in Mexico's cultural landscape—the captivating and mysterious ancient city of Teotihuacan.


Image: Mexico, Anahuac, Teotihuacan, Smaller pyramids in the foreground of Pyramid del Sol. (Photo by: Eye Ubiquitous/UIG via Getty Images)


City of Water, City of Fire: Art and Identity at Teotihuacan

The city of Teotihuacan was one of the most important urban centers of the ancient Americas. Drawing on a diverse population from all over Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan is at once quintessentially of its place and time while it also transcends those boundaries. Even as modern city-dwellers would instantly recognize its grid and multi-family dwellings as characteristics of our own urban forms, its monumental pyramids and hidden tunnels speak to an altogether different order, one drawn from the power of the natural world. This lecture will give an overview of the recent exhibition Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, which emphasizes recent discoveries at the site as it seeks to understand Teotihuacan as an exemplary, even archetypal, city of ancient Mexico – and a place where art served to bind the diverse population together.

Matthew H. Robb, Chief Curator of the Fowler Museum at UCLA

Matthew H. Robb is Chief Curator of the Fowler Museum at UCLA, where he oversees a collection and exhibition program that emphasizes works from Africa, Asia, the Pacific, and the Americas—past and present. Prior to joining the staff of the Fowler, he was the first curator of the Arts of the Americas at the de Young Museum in San Francisco, where he curated Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, and edited the accompanying catalogue. He was Associate Curator in Charge, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas, at the Saint Louis Art Museum, where he curated and supervised complete reinstallations of the museum’s ancient American, African, Oceanic, and Native American collections. Robb holds an undergraduate degree from Princeton University a Master’s degree from the University of Texas at Austin and a PhD from Yale University. He has also held curatorial positions at the Walters Art Museum and the Princeton University Art Museum. He has lectured and written on a broad range of topics in the indigenous arts of the Western Hemisphere, and his work has received grants from the Getty Research Institute and the National Endowment for the Humanities.

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Header image: Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire. Photo courtesy Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco


Teotihuacan: City of Water City, of Fire - History

Teotihuacan was the first, largest, and most influential metropolis on the American continent. In its heyday between 100 BCE and 650 CE, the city encompassed an area of 20 square

Event Details

Teotihuacan was the first, largest, and most influential metropolis on the American continent. In its heyday between 100 BCE and 650 CE, the city encompassed an area of 20 square kilometers with a population of more than 150,000. Both the inhabitants of Teotihuacan, its original name, and why the city was abandoned around 650 CE are still unknown. When the Aztecs, coming from the north in the first half of the 14th century, discovered its abandoned ruins on the Mexican Central Plateau, they named it Teotihuacan, the place where gods were born, and used it as the setting for their own creation myth.

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire is a major traveling exhibition organized by the de Young Museum in San Francisco in collaboration with the National Institute of Anthropology and History of Mexico. With more than 200 outstanding objects from the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City, Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire will provide a comprehensive insight into the art, everyday life, and religion of Teotihuacan, and its influence on other regions of Mexico. The exhibition will explore the archaeological history of the city through sculptures, friezes and murals domestic objects including vessels and figures, stone carvings, masks, statues of gods and representations of animals and extraordinary objects crafted out of precious materials including jade, obsidian, greenstone, and onyx.

Over the course of the exhibition, Phoenix Art Museum will partner with Arizona State University and its world-class archaeology faculty to create community-wide, all-ages programs to enhance visitors’ experience of these World Heritage archaeological treasures, on view for the first time in the state of Arizona.

For tickets, lecture series dates and more, visit the Phoenix Arts Museum website. For more speciality art exhibits, visit our events page.


Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire

Founded in the first century BCE near a set of natural springs in an otherwise dry northeastern corner of the Valley of Mexico, the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan was on a symbolic level a city of elements. With a multiethnic population of perhaps one hundred thousand, at its peak in 400 CE, it was the cultural, political, economic, and religious center of ancient Mesoa Founded in the first century BCE near a set of natural springs in an otherwise dry northeastern corner of the Valley of Mexico, the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan was on a symbolic level a city of elements. With a multiethnic population of perhaps one hundred thousand, at its peak in 400 CE, it was the cultural, political, economic, and religious center of ancient Mesoamerica. A devastating fire in the city center led to a rapid decline after the middle of the sixth century, but Teotihuacan was never completely abandoned or forgotten the Aztecs revered the city and its monuments, giving many of them the names we still use today.

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire examines new discoveries from the three main pyramids at the site—the Sun Pyramid, the Moon Pyramid, and, at the center of the Ciudadela complex, the Feathered Serpent Pyramid—which have fundamentally changed our understanding of the city’s history. With illustrations of the major objects from Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Antropología and from the museums and storage facilities of the Zona de Monumentos Arqueológicos de Teotihuacan, along with selected works from US and European collections, the catalogue examines these cultural artifacts to understand the roles that offerings of objects and programs of monumental sculpture and murals throughout the city played in the lives of Teotihuacan’s citizens.

Published in association with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Exhibition dates:
de Young, San Francisco, September 30, 2017–February 11, 2018
Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), March 25–September 3, 2018
Phoenix Art Museum: October 6, 2018–January 27, 2019 . more


Teotihuacan : City of Water, City of Fire

Founded in the first century BCE near a set of natural springs in an otherwise dry northeastern corner of the Valley of Mexico, the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan was on a symbolic level a city of elements. With a multiethnic population of perhaps one hundred thousand, at its peak in 400 CE, it was the cultural, political, economic, and religious center of ancient Mesoamerica. A devastating fire in the city center led to a rapid decline after the middle of the sixth century, but Teotihuacan was never completely abandoned or forgotten the Aztecs revered the city and its monuments, giving many of them the names we still use today.

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire examines new discoveries from the three main pyramids at the site-the Sun Pyramid, the Moon Pyramid, and, at the center of the Ciudadela complex, the Feathered Serpent Pyramid-which have fundamentally changed our understanding of the city's history. With illustrations of the major objects from Mexico City's Museo Nacional de Antropologia and from the museums and storage facilities of the Zona de Monumentos Arqueologicos de Teotihuacan, along with selected works from US and European collections, the catalogue examines these cultural artifacts to understand the roles that offerings of objects and programs of monumental sculpture and murals throughout the city played in the lives of Teotihuacan's citizens. Published in association with the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco.

Exhibition dates: de Young, San Francisco, September 30, 2017-February 11, 2018 Los Angeles County Museum of Art (LACMA), March-June 2018 .

Details
  • Author: Matt Robb, chief curator of the Fowler Museum at UCLA
  • Hardcover: 444 pages | 350 colour illustrations
  • Date published: October 2017
  • Language: English
  • Delivery: Allow 1-2 weeks
  • ISBN: 978-0520296558
  • Product Dimensions: 30.4 x 24.8 cm

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SALE Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire (Catalogue for City and Cosmos)

This is the catalogue for City and Cosmos: The Arts of Teotihuacan.

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire examines new discoveries from the three main pyramids at the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan—the Sun Pyramid, the Moon Pyramid, and, at the center of the Ciudadela complex, the Feathered Serpent Pyramid—which have fundamentally changed our understanding of the city’s history.

Founded in the first century BCE near a set of natural springs in an otherwise dry northeastern corner of the Valley of Mexico, the metropolis was on a symbolic level a city of elements. With a multiethnic population of perhaps one hundred thousand, at its peak in 400 CE, it was the cultural, political, economic, and religious center of ancient Mesoamerica. A devastating fire in the city center led to a rapid decline after the middle of the sixth century, but Teotihuacan was never completely abandoned or forgotten the Aztecs revered the city and its monuments, giving many of them the names we still use today.

With illustrations of the major objects from Mexico City’s Museo Nacional de Antropología and from the museums and storage facilities of the Zona de Monumentos Arqueológicos de Teotihuacan, along with selected works from US and European collections, the catalogue examines these cultural artifacts to understand the roles that offerings of objects and programs of monumental sculpture and murals throughout the city played in the lives of Teotihuacan’s citizens.

This publication was issued on the occasion of the exhibition Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire at the de Young Arts Museum, San Francisco, and City and Cosmos: The Arts of Teotihuacan at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from March 25 through September 3, 2018. Edited by Matthew Robb, authors include Rubén Cabrera Castro, Diana Magaloni, Hillary Olcott, Megan E. O'Neil, and Nawa Sugiyama.

- Hardcover
- 444 pages, 9.8 x 9.8 x 12 inches
- Illustrated throughout in color
- 2017


Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire Pictorial Guide

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire—A Pictorial illustrates about thirty of the new discoveries found at the three main pyramids at the ancient metropolis of Teotihuacan—the Sun Pyramid, the Moon Pyramid, and, at the center of the Ciudadela complex, the Feathered Serpent Pyramid—which have fundamentally changed our understanding of the city’s history.

Founded in the first century BCE near a set of natural springs in an otherwise dry northeastern corner of the Valley of Mexico, the metropolis was on a symbolic level a city of elements. With a multiethnic population of perhaps one hundred thousand, at its peak in 400 CE, it was the cultural, political, economic, and religious center of ancient Mesoamerica. A devastating fire in the city center led to a rapid decline after the middle of the sixth century, but Teotihuacan was never completely abandoned or forgotten the Aztecs revered the city and its monuments, giving many of them the names we still use today.

This publication was issued on the occasion of the exhibition Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire at the de Young Arts Museum, San Francisco, and City and Cosmos: The Arts of Teotihuacan at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art from March 25 through September 3, 2018.


Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire

September 30, 2017 – February 11, 2018
De Young Museum- San Francisco

Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire will explore how artworks from the ancient city shape our understanding of Teotihuacan as an urban environment. One of the earliest, largest, and most important cities in the ancient Americas, Teotihuacan is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most visited archaeological site in Mexico. The exhibition, organized in collaboration with Mexico’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), will feature recent, never-before-seen archaeological discoveries and other major loans from Mexican and US cultural institutions. Monumental and ritual objects from Teotihuacan’s three pyramids will be shown alongside mural paintings, ceramics, and stone sculptures from the city’s apartment compounds.
https://deyoung.famsf.org/exhibitions/teotihuacan-city-water-city-fire

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Teotihuacan: City of Water City, of Fire - History

We tend to think early civilizations were primitive, undeveloped and unsophisticated. When we see the ruins and archeological artifacts, we say: “How did they do this thousands of years ago?” We somehow decided that ancient people were less capable, but is it really true?

Of course humans kept advancing technology, which advanced our society tremendously. Today we live in the far “smarter” environment compared to our ancestors. But it’s rather our collective achievement. What about individual peoples’ ability? It may well be the case that ancient people had much stronger physical, sensorial and cognitive abilities because they had little technology to rely on to accomplish any tasks. They only had their body to face harsh nature and various threats.

If we were suddenly thrown in Teotihuacan with no heavy machines, no vehicles or no computers, what could we build to accommodate the population over 100,000? What kind of social system could we introduce? What would we be drawing and crafting when there were no knives, no chisels, no screws, no papers, no pencils, no brushes, no paints, not to mention no cameras nor CAD? Could we outperform the people of Teotihuacan?


Watch the video: The Holy City of Teotihuacan Mexico Pre-Hispanic World Heritage Site (August 2022).