2009 Symposium, Abstracts

Past Presented: A Symposium on the History of Archaeological Illustration

The Impact of the Discovery of the New World on the Development of European Antiquarianism

Alain Schnapp, Université de Paris I

The discovery of the past is strongly related to that of the world. The lure of European antiquarianism coincides historically with the first European expeditions to America. Collecting curiosities and treasure-hunting were part of the agendas of the conquistadors. José Alcina Franch reminded us that Hernán Cortes paid a visit to Tenochtitlan's Templo Mayor in Moctezuma's company, and Hernando Pizarro called on the temple of Pachachamac.

Recording and sometimes even translating Mexican codices, or copying Maya glyphs, were part of the excitement of the encounter with the American Other. Albeit most of the conquistadors rejected every part of the cultural achievement of the native populations, some clerics and soon some educated Indians tried hard to explore and comment on the textual and material evidence of the ancient Americans.

I shall attempt in this talk to focus on the relationship between the foundation of American antiquarianism and the history of the European experience of recording and re-awakening the past through the Spanish vision of antiquity and further through the "respublica antiquaria" of Peiresc and his circle in the first half of the seventeenth century.

The First Steps on a Long Journey: Archaeological Illustration in New Spain in the Eighteenth Century

Leonardo López Luján, Museo del Templo Mayor, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia

This paper analyzes the illustrations of archaeological sites, buildings, monuments, and artifacts that were produced in Mexico at the end of the colonial period. Throughout the eighteenth century, the Creole and European population of New Spain displayed growing interest in the cultural expressions of Pre-Hispanic civilizations. Antiquities were thus historically and aesthetically reevaluated for scientific as well as political reasons. In this context, numerous antiquarians, collectors, and artists were given the task of graphically recording whatever vestiges of the past crossed their path.

In the first section, cartographic images that arose from indigenous and European traditions are contrasted to allow for an understanding of how and why archaeological ruins are represented in the rural landscape. Similarly, diverse drawings and engravings of temples, palaces, and sculptures from Teotihuacan, Xochicalco, El Tajín, Mitla, and other Mesoamerican cities are compared. Then illustrations of ancient objects—which at that time were treasured in public and private collections—are examined. In all cases, fundamental aspects such as artistic techniques, the use of visual conventions, the training and interests of their creators, and above all, the function that these visual records served are analyzed. The main purpose is to understand the origins of a long and vigorous tradition in the field of Mesoamerican archaeology.

The Uncanny Tomb Illustrations in Martínez Compañón's Trujillo del Perú

Lisa Trever, Harvard University

The nine volumes of watercolor illustrations that the bishop Baltasar Jaime Martínez Compañón had made to illustrate his history of the intendancy of Trujillo provide a uniquely comprehensive view of society, industry, and nature in northern Peru in the 1780s. Although initiated in response to a royal call for geographic reports and natural history collections from throughout the Americas, the project's emphasis on illustration is unparalleled in eighteenth-century Peru. At the time of the bishop's death the text of the Historia remained unwritten, but his illustrations of northern Peru endure as an invaluable graphic resource for the study of Andean history and prehistory.

One hundred and six illustrations of archaeological sites and antiquities make up the bishop's ninth volume. They include detailed plans of the ruins at Chan Chan, Huaca del Sol, and other Pre-Columbian sites, studies of ancient and early colonial textiles, metal ornaments, ceramics, and other artifacts, and a series of illustrations of burials. Although the site plans were likely modeled on Bourbon maps and plans of the Vesuvian excavations in Naples and have been favorably compared to twentieth-century methods of archaeological documentation, the Peruvian burial illustrations lack a clear graphic precedent. Especially when compared to other archaeological illustrations of burials, there is something unsettling-even uncanny (unheimlich in the sense employed by Ernst Jentsch)—in the depictions of the semi-animated, ambiguous bodies of the deceased in the tombs of Trujillo. This paper explores the sources of that visual unease for the twenty-first-century viewer, as well as its effects on scholarly interpretation of the tombs. These images are temporally too far removed from the Pre-Columbian past to allow for easy explanation by pointing to precedents in Moche, Chimú, or coastal Inca artistic traditions. Rather, one must delve into the early history of archaeological imaging, botanical and zoological illustration, and the genre of post-mortem portraiture in order to interpret these images of the dead.

Beyond Stephens and Catherwood: Ancient Mesoamerica as Public Entertainment in the Early Nineteenth Century

Khristaan Villela, University of New Mexico

This paper will interrogate the corpus of images of Pre-Columbian art and architecture of Mesoamerica produced in Latin America, Europe, and the U.S. in the first half of the nineteenth century, focusing on the activities of the illustrators outside their best-known work, specifically in the arena of public entertainment. These efforts along with changes in the ways images were produced and consumed in the early nineteenth century eventually resulted in the present day canon of Pre-Columbian Mesoamerican objects.

Although writers beginning in the sixteenth century embellished their accounts of Mexico and Central America with illustrations of native architecture and artifacts, the economy of the image of ancient Mesoamerica dramatically expanded in the early nineteenth century. An avalanche of images of ancient America followed the early efforts of Antonio de León y Gama and Alexander von Humboldt at the turn of the nineteenth century. By the mid-1840s, J.F. Waldeck, F. Catherwood, C. Nebel, P. Gualdi, D. Egerton, William Bullock Jr., A. Aglio, and K.F. Schinkel, and others dramatically expanded the known corpus of Precolumbian Mesoamerican art and architecture. Although some of these figures are best known as expeditionary artists, most were also active in other modes of artistic production, especially in the world of public entertainment. How did their work producing panoramas, opera sets, and exhibition illustrations, and reconstruction paintings affected their (and our) view of the ancient Maya, Aztec, and other peoples of Precolumbian Mesoamerica? How were the images we think we know so well shaped by the demands and processes of these other artistic arenas?

Antonio Raimondi, Archaeology, and Nationalist Discourse: Representations of the Past in Nineteenth-Century Peru

Luis Felipe Villacorta, Museo Raimondi

Antonio Raimondi was an Italian scientist-traveler who undertook the most extensive and exhaustive scientific exploration of Peru during the 19th century (1850–1869). As a naturalist, his objective was to record all manifestations of Peruvian nature, including evidence of its renowned prehispanic past. The present study examines the diverse types of illustrations found in Raimondi's archaeological work, including sketches in his travel notebooks, rubbings, maps, watercolors, engravings, and cartographic conventions, and situates them within the wider context of his own scientific project and the broader socio-political dynamic of mid-19th Peru.

His illustrations provide evidence that changes in graphic protocols were formally incorporated into his overall work, marking distinct stages in the progress of his intellectual development, namely exploration, research, and publication. In his descriptions and typologies, Raimondi was clearly concerned with the professionalization of his analytical methodology and his participation in an active public sphere in which to diffuse the new knowledge. As part of his comprehensive project, therefore, he addressed his work to multiple audiences including fellow scientists, government leaders, international academics and the general public. Raimondi sought to publicize his work through visual representation of the Peruvian past and present not only in published books, but also in museums, fairs, foreign journals, and through contributions to scientific societies in Europe. His graphic work reflects the dominant ideology of liberal-positivist modernization that animated the political vanguard of Peru which was linked to, and provided intellectual justification for, the action of the state at the time.

In this context, Raimondi's inventory of the country's natural resources—among them the evidence of its prehispanic past—brought about a new and crucial awareness of the value of his productive appropriation as well as an affirmation of national sovereignty over the frontier. In this way, the evidence of the Peruvian prehistoric past constituted elements that granted legitimacy and historical depth to that stage of the republican process, headed by a bourgeois elite which encountered in Raimondi's works and in the dynamism of his time, new spaces for the consecration of individual, national and institutional symbols of the past that he made his own.

Nineteenth-century Photographs of Archaeological Artifacts and Collections in Mexico

Adam T. Sellen, Centro Peninsular en Humanidades y Ciencias Sociales, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

In this paper I will explore a particular genre of nineteenth-century photography that has received little attention in the academic literature: early photographs of archaeological artifacts and collections. Some of the very first images of Pre-Columbian remains were not of ruins, but rather of objects and collections of objects. As archaeological collections grew exponentially in size during the thirty-year period of Mexico's Porfiriato, so did the number of images that illustrated these holdings. The proliferation of collections was due, in part, to local Mexican collectors and agents of foreign institutions that frenetically competed for the same archaeological materials within a framework of positivist thought. As Mexican laws prohibiting the export of cultural heritage were ramped up, however, images of artifacts and collections were increasingly more common as substitutes for possessing the actual object. Eventually, these images transformed from being records of private holdings to becoming important sources for scientific inquiry, evidenced by the fact that they were often manipulated in different ways, reflecting the interests and background of the researcher.

The questions I will address in this paper are the following: What were the visual and scientific antecedents to this type of photograph? How were images of collections used by proto-archaeologists? What do these images tell us about the state of early archaeology in Mexico? For example, is it possible to deduce incipient classifications from the arrangements of archaeological material in the images?

Drawing Glyphs Together

Byron Hamann, University of Chicago

In a recent discussion of the interpretation of prehispanic iconography in The Art Bulletin, Jeffrey Quilter pointed out that this is a field, oddly, dominated by anthropologists more than art historians. "Drawing Glyphs Together" considers just what it is that anthropologists do when they interpret Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerican images. I focus on one technique rampant in anthropological readings of Pre-Hispanic imagery but hardly ever used by art historians: the line drawing, and in particular the method of combining line drawings of details of larger artifacts together on a single page. Hence the title of the essay, which draws on a prior study by Bruno Latour: "Drawing Things Together." Here Latour argues that much scientific practice is about "the transformation of rats and chemicals into paper." Through representations on paper, things can be rearranged and combined in ways impossible with the actual objects depicted. My own study looks at the history of line-drawing practices in Mesoamerican studies, the implications for archaeological vision that they imply and the way they may make us, now, blind to certain aspects of Pre-Hispanic imagery. I conclude by arguing that Mesoamericans, too, had certain basic techniques for Drawing Glyphs Together—styles of presenting images that are often obscured by anthropological visions of fragmented line drawings.

Picturing Objectivity

Peter Galison, Harvard University

When scientific objectivity became a goal in the early nineteenth century it was by no means obvious. Natural philosophers had to invert the old epistemic virtues that involved finding ideal forms that lay behind the variations of this or that individual. Where genius was, plain-sight observation came to dominate. We will here track how scientific atlases helped define the modern scientific category of mechanical objectivity—and the new quieted and transparent scientific self that necessarily accompanied it.

The fate of objectivity kept turning: twentieth-century scientists questioned image-based, mechanical objectivity; they demanded more interpretation and modification of images than mechanical objectivity ever allowed. With that shift in objectivity came a new view of the right scientific self, one now explicitly making use of intuition, expertise, and the unconscious. In our present moment—the digital has begun to morph the representational into the presentational, and we can begin to see a very different picture of objectivity.

"Unavoidable Imperfections": Historical Contexts for Representing Ruined Maya Buildings

Scott R. Hutson, University of Kentucky

Contemporary archaeologists most often represent ruined Maya platforms using a convention named after the turn-of-the-century explorer Teobert Maler. Despite their popularity, such two-dimensional representations fail to capture the three-dimensional reality of the terrain. The wide variety of conventions used to map similarly shaped mounds in different parts of the world underscores the fact that there is nothing natural about the conventions used by Mayanists. Indeed, the history of map-making shows that even within the Maya area different explorers used very different mapping conventions, often for the same ruins. This leeway in how mappers invent/represent the terrain opens a space for considering how social factors external to the ruins shape the construction of maps. Rather than seeing the development of Maya cartography as an inevitable march toward ever-more-accurate presentations of ancient ruins, this paper examines the ways in which multiple and sometimes conflicting influences—ideologies of cultural evolution, the ambitions of individual explorers, the goals of institutions sponsoring exploration, the class structure of early archaeology—impact the representation of Maya ruins.

In exploring how, to quote J.B. Harley, cartography belongs to the terrain of the social world in which it is produced, this paper also documents how earlier generations of maps and accompanying texts work together as a technology of representation that, unlike contemporary maps, provide a more embodied experience of place. The history of Maya map-making also show how maps work as technologies of power. Lessons learned from old maps encourage a healthy suspicion as to how the conventions used in site maps made today condition the way we conceive of ancient sites.

"Wings Over the Andes": Aerial Photography and the Dematerialization of Archaeology ca. 1931

Jason Weems, University of California, Riverside

Between January and August of 1931, geologist Robert Shippee and U.S. Navy pilot George Johnson oversaw a survey expedition that produced thousands of aerial photographs of the Peruvian landscape. The expedition marked the first systematic use aerial photography as a tool for archaeological study in South America. This paper explores the roles played by such aerial imagery in the discovery and, more importantly, the epistemological and aesthetic reconceptualization of architectural ruins, "lost" settlements and manmade landforms of the pre-contact Andes. Aviation's new perch extended the archaeologist's gaze in many practical ways. Indeed, the Shippee Johnson photographs received international acclaim for their unique ability to reveal sites and objects previously invisible from ground level.

Yet the merger of aerial vision and archaeology resulted in more than just a tool for new discoveries. The aerial gaze penetrated and disrupted the basic assumptions of archaeological knowledge and practice. Unlike extraction-oriented archaeology with its science of original objects, the Shippee Johnson survey enabled representations to stand in place of material reality. The deterrestrialized and synoptic quality of the aerial gaze, coupled with the apparent indexicality of the photograph constructed a new way of knowing the Andean objects: one that emerged not from the materiality of the past, but rather from the abstracting and universalizing qualities embedded in twentieth-century visuality. By highlighting the status of the Shippee Johnson photographs as historically ambivalent objects-pictures that resituate the pre-Columbian world in the forms of the modern-this paper seeks to underscore the contingent relationship between archaeology, its images, and its conceptualization of an Andean past.

Mediated Monuments: Photography, Maya Sculpture, and Art History in the First Half of the Twentieth Century

Bryan Just, Princeton University Art Museum

By the early decades of the twentieth century, a substantial photographic corpus of Maya sculpture had been developed, yet minimal research was being conducted on the visual character and artistry of the depicted monuments. This corpus included the important early work of Maudslay and Maler, as well as the more recent accumulations by researchers at the Carnegie Institution, Harvard University, the University of Pennsylvania, and Tulane University. This paper explores the role of photographic illustration from these primary contributors vis-à-vis art-historical studies of their subjects produced during the first half of the twentieth century. The photographs will be examined as data, as objects (and facet of a larger object—the corpus), and as relay, in order to unpack aspects of the images' production, dissemination, and redeployment for art-historical analysis. It will be shown that the objectives of many of the photographers were at odds with the very project of comparative study of Maya monuments as sculptures. Flattening, decontextualization, and artificial illumination became standard aspects of sculptural photography and publication, promoting specific interpretive possibilities at the expense of others. The selection of illustrations from this corpus by Spinden, Proskouriakoff, Kubler, and others interested in the aesthetic and stylistic aspects of Maya sculpture will be posed as indices of the established conventions of sculptural illustration in the first half of the twentieth century. The enduring impact of this history on Maya art history and compensatory illustrative strategies will also be considered.

Drawing Archaeology: Francisco Mujica and the Creation of a Modern Mexican Past

Daniel Schavelzon, Universidad de Buenos Aires

Francisco Mujica (1899–1965) was a remarkable draftsman of archaeological sites and objects. As an independent artist he drew what he wanted methodically, site by site. He believed it was possible to reproduce, with noticeable hyperrealism, the whole Pre-Hispanic universe—architecture, painting, pottery, sculpture—in pencil drawings, which surpass even photographs. It was to that work that he devoted his life, and he did so in utter silence.

Mexican by birth, he studied and worked in many different countries, and exhibited his first works in Europe and the United States in the 1920s, including his own ideas on the past and his presence in the present. After divorcing he tried to go unnoticed, and he developed a paranoid relationship with the world, particularly the Mexican archaeological draftsmen preferred by the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia. He lived most of his life in Argentina and died in the United States, in utter obscurity.

He developed a love-hate relationship with Ignacio Marquina, Miguel Angel Fernández, Jean Charlot (who replaced him at Chichen Itza in 1926) and those who could actually make his drawings more widely known—although technically poorer in quality—through their inclusion in the publication of archaeological studies of the time. His masterpiece involves hundreds of drawings of Chichen and Teotihuacan in the 1920s, including unknown plans and details. His works have been preserved in Mexico, Argentina and the United States.

The Way Things Were: Imaginative Reconstructions of Mesoamerican Life

Stephen Houston, Brown University

Representations of the Mesoamerican past traffic in two propositions, that they are shaped by factual documentation and that, under certain conditions, they allow limited license for imaginative reconstruction. Tamped around those propositions are other influences: traditions and practices of representation that intersect with idiosyncrasy and innovation; notions of things as they are and of how they should be; varying levels of skill; even attempts to craft and fix vignettes of past life. Mesoamerican archaeology is rich with such images. Beginning in the nineteenth century, but gathering force in the twentieth, representations drew on such precedents, especially as channeled through National Geographic magazine, "Western art," and book illustration, to show "the ways things were." The Maya field is, because of popular interest, especially relevant to the predicaments of representation, and will form the special focus of this paper.

Beyond the Naked Eye: Multidimensionality of Sculpture in Archaeological Illustration

Barbara Fash, Peabody Museum, Harvard University

This paper will consider the role technology (in a broad sense) has played in the methods of illustrating the three-dimensionality of Mesoamerican monuments, from nineteenth-century engravings to present-day virtual models. These changes require illustrators' skills to rapidly adapt new methods into their repertoires; what is gained and what is sacrificed in this process will be analyzed. Is one's ability as an illustrator diminished when technological advances come to dominate? Or should we begin to see the objects we study with new eyes?

Recent advances in three-dimensional technology allow us to study ancient sculpture in minute detail as never before. The resulting models with rotating light sources enable close inspection of monuments and inscriptions beyond the eye's normal range. Present day three-dimensional scanning projects promise great benefits to archaeologists, epigraphers, and historians who study them, and also bring the monuments and their preservation plights to a much wider audience, with potential for cultural tourism as well. Yet the ability to reproduce monuments in solid form from virtual copies raises questions of ownership and authenticity. Coverage of the Corpus of Maya Hieroglyphic Inscriptions' on-going 3D scanning project of Copan's Hieroglyphic Stairway will be used to illustrate the potentials and challenges of this new technology.

Realizing the Potential of Digital Models and Images: Beyond Visualization

John Rick, Stanford University

Archaeological research has seen a substantial shift in methodological emphasis in the last decades; one of the new directions has been the increasing use of visual-spatial data. The increasingly sophisticated capabilities of microcomputing allow relatively easy production and manipulation of images and models of objects, sites, regions, and even the entire globe. Although there are some notable advances toward the analytical potential of dimensional models, in most cases the result of these efforts has been increasingly impressive visualization, where a general impressiveness and viewer appreciation seems to be the goal; image realism and easy access and interpretability of the subject of study seem an end in themselves. Lagging far behind is our ability to reason through dimensional models and images toward verifiable conclusions in the way that archaeologists have used other methods such as statistics, for instance. This paper argues that a more analytical use of accurate dimensional models of archaeological subjects—necessarily through imagery—has the potential to not only change basic archaeological methodologies, but actually revolutionize the relationship between researchers and their audiences, ultimately blurring the distinction between research process and research product.

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