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Arts and Architecture of Ancient Americas

Fall 2017
M/W 2:00- 3:15 AM
Dodd 147
Instructor: John M.D. Pohl, Ph.D.
Office Hours: (W: 1:00-2:00, M/W 6:00-7:00)


This course is designed to introduce students to the Pre-Columbian arts of the

indigenous civilizations of North America, Central America, and South America.
The first part of the course will examine the architecture and monumental art of
the indigenous peoples that dominated what is today both Mexico and the United
States. The goal is to introduce students to the different methods and
techniques employed by art historians to study the past and to examine how art
history contributes to interdisciplinary studies of ancient cultural history. The
rest of the course is designed as a survey of the major art traditions of earlier
times and other peoples from Mesoamerica to the Andes.


Coe, Michael and Rex Koontz

2008 Mexico: From the Olmecs to the Aztecs. Sixth Edition. London: Thames
and Hudson.

Stone, Rebecca Stone Miller

2002 Art of the Andes from Chavin to Inca. London: Thames and Hudson

(Three chapters from Michael Coe’s “The Maya” will be posted as on-line
readings as well.)

Instructional Website:


All students must attend class. There will be one 75 minute midterm and a term
paper due Wednesday, December 6, 2017. Participation in class and the
midterm grade will each count as 30% of the final course grade. The paper will
count as 40%. The midterm will consist of a choice of two of four essay
questions that have been taken from a list of study questions distributed a week
in advance. Term paper topics will be selected from a list of study problems.
Bring blue books to the midterm. Students unable to make the mid-term exam
must be prepared to present a written medical excuse. Failure to do so will
result in forfeiture of a grade for that exam. Organization and spelling will count.

October 2: Introduction: Origins

(Read Coe and Koontz: Chapters 1-5)

Formative-Preclassic Mesoamerica

October 4: The Olmec

(Read Coe and Koontz: Chapters 6-7)

Classic Mesoamerica

October 9: Monte Alban

October 11: Teotihuacan

(Read Coe and Koontz: Chapters 8-9)

The Postclassic

October 16: Tula

October 18: No Class (I have to attend a conference)

(Read: Harvey, Doug 2012 Artists Rule. Humanities: The Magazine of the
National Endowment of the Humanities. Vol. 33. No. 5: pp. 34-38)

October 23: Cholula and the Late Postclassic International Style

(Read Coe and Koontz: Chapter 10)

October 25: Tenochtitlan and the Aztec Empire

(Read: Cecelia 2008 A New Interpretation of the Aztec Statue Called Coatlicue,
"Snakes-Her-Skirt." Ethnohistory
Vol. 55, No. 2 pp. 229-250)
Klein, Cecelia F. 1976 The Identity of the Central Deity on the Aztec Calendar
Stone. The Art Bulletin Vol. 58, No. 1. pp. 1-12)
Assignment: Look up your birthday on:

October 30: Aztec Art

November 1: Mid-Term Review

November 6: MID-TERM

North America

November 8: West Mexico and Ancestral Pueblo

November 13: The Mississippian Peoples

(Read: Coe “The Maya” Chapters 3-4)

Central America

November 15: Maya Origins

(Read: Coe “The Maya” Chapter 5)

November 20: The Late Classic Maya

November 22: Peoples of Lower Central America

(Read Stone Miller: Chapters 2-3)

South America

November 27: Chavin

(Read Stone Miller: Chapter 4)

November 29: Moche

(Read Stone Miller: Chapters 5-6)

December 4: Chimor (Chan Chan)

(Read Stone Miller: Chapter 7)

December 6: Cuzco and the Inca

Final Papers Due