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The Art of Urbanism

The Art of Urbanism

How Mesoamerican Kingdoms Represented Themselves in Architecture and Imagery

Edited by William L. Fash and Leonardo López Luján

ISBN 9780884023784

Publication date: 04/02/2012

The Art of Urbanism explores how the royal courts of powerful Mesoamerican centers represented their kingdoms in architectural, iconographic, and cosmological terms. Through an investigation of the ecological contexts and environmental opportunities of urban centers, the contributors consider how ancient Mesoamerican cities defined themselves and reflected upon their physical—and metaphysical—place via their built environment. Themes in the volume include the ways in which a kingdom’s public monuments were fashioned to reflect geographic space, patron gods, and mythology, and how the Olmec, Maya, Mexica, Zapotecs, and others sought to center their world through architectural monuments and public art.

This collection of papers addresses how communities leveraged their environment and built upon their cultural and historical roots as well as the ways that the performance of calendrical rituals and other public events tied individuals and communities to both urban centers and hinterlands. Twenty-three scholars from archaeology, anthropology, art history, and religious studies contribute new data and new perspectives to the understanding of ancient Mesoamericans’ own view of their spectacular urban and ritual centers.


  • William L. Fash, Jr., is Bowditch Professor of Central American and Mexican Archaeology and Ethnology and William and Muriel Seabury Howells Director of the Peabody Museum at Harvard University.
  • Leonardo López Luján is Senior Professor and Researcher of Archaeology at the Museo del Templo Mayor, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Mexico City.

Book Details

  • 488 pages
  • 7 x 10 inches
  • Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection