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Joukov Perrin Militaire. Illustration of the archaeological past also began to briefly flower using the collections in the newly minted National Museum as inspiration. Toward the end of the s this trend changed dramatically and publications with a more nationalistic agenda began to appear. By referencing the physical museum the editors were trying to replicate, to use Nora idea of a museum, a place of memory.
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By focusing largely on literature and history, they created a pedagogic memory, where text and image were inescapable reference points for anchoring national and regional identities. The expressed aim was to compile information about the region in order to consolidate a peninsular citizenry and to demonstrate to foreigners that they had all the elements to be an independent nation. The other literary journals reproduced similar nationalist claims on archaeological heritage, but without the racially charged politics of the Yucatec separatist.
Apart from their political agendas, these literary publications both gave voice to and sought to shape the cultural aspirations of an elite segment of nineteenth-century Mexican society, one consisting largely of politicians, intellectuals, clergy, military officers, and businessmen. Having liberated themselves from Spanish domination in , many such criollos , relishing the new freedom of the post-colonial regime and inspired by contemporary European Romantic and nationalist thinkers, were eager to claim a new, genuinely Mexican identity by exploring the various cultural and historical strands that were combined in the young Republic.
If Egyptian hieroglyphs could be deciphered —as they had been, only recently, by Champollion— then why not also the writing systems of the ancient Mexicans? It is an exotic encounter in an exuberant jungle scene: below a quetzal bird, a coiled snake and a monkey, a man makes his way through the dense bush, gun slung over his shoulder, and on the opposite side an indian or Indian?
The illustration is a romantic blend of fantasy imbued with stereotypes, and describes a young nation that is exploring and mapping the contours of its territory and awakening to the material reality of its pre-Columbian heritage. The articles covered archaeological discoveries in different states in Mexico, and all in the periphery of the Republic: one on the ruins of La Quemada in Zacatecas, another on several different sites in Veracruz, and even one on the ancient evidences from Jalisco, a region that even today is considered somewhat of a backwater in archeological terms.
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The majority of the articles focused on the archaeology of the Zapotec, a culture of great antiquity situated in the present day state of Oaxaca, in southwest Mexico, that still thrives in this area today. The cultures of Oaxaca received the most ink, in part because they were in the way of progress.
The decade of saw the construction of a new interstate highway and significant surveying for the promise of an interoceanic canal, and in the path of these projects previously unknown ruins and antiquities were revealed. Thus it can be argued that it was the arrival of modernity —modes of transportation and the technology required for their establishment— that uncovered the ancient remains.
National infrastructure projects, such as the interoceanic canal proposal for the Isthmus of Tehuantepec and a national highway that would cut through the middle of state of Oaxaca, had an impact. In a select sampling of those published reports we learn that in employees of a survey for the roadwork project of the National Highway explored extensive ruins on top of the mountain known as Cerro de las Juntas, close to the town of Quiotepec and where the rivers Salado and Papaloapan meet.
Accompanied by the local Prefect, they described the hike to the top of the mountain as arduous and full of venomous insects and snakes, and on the way one of the group passed out from the heat, requiring that they retreat to the nearby town. The precise conformation of these commissions still needs to be studied, but their published results were remarkably detailed, including measurements of all the structures as well as drawings of the main buildings Figure 2 ; reportedly, nine maps were also made of the site but their present location is unknown.
The drawings are understandably amateurish given the difficult conditions of the expedition and perhaps the skill level of the draughtsman, yet they nonetheless give an idea of the monumentality of the site. The objects, including types that had never been seen before by the public, were reproduced with technical precision, though it is not always clear who made these illustrations. At times the illustrations acted as catalogues, accompanied by text that detailed size and provenance.
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For example, Miguel Retes, discovered numerous artifacts in his native state of Jalisco, in ruins known as Ixcuintla, and recorded an entry for each piece Figure 3. In a wake up call to his fellow citizens, he warned that wealthy foreigners were carrying off these materials to add to their personal collections or to enrich museums in their countries of origin. Ironically, he was unaware that his own publication was a cultural treasure map, informing would-be explorers of what routes to follow and what types of objects were available in different regions.
The illustration of ancient material evidence throughout the pages of the literary journals was not just to show what was obtainable in distinct regions of the country, but also to graphically excite the imagination of the readership with exotic, strange and abnormal categories. In the third article in the series on Zapotec antiquities, the editors published several pre-Hispanic ceramic artifacts from the state of Oaxaca that had been supplied by General Tornel. The first one is clearly a Zapotec urn, showing an old man with a wrinkled face whose hands cross over his chest, a commonplace gesture in such effigies Figure 4.
When they were published in their cultural affiliation was vigorously questioned by Pedro de Garay y Garay, a naval officer who was both secretary and treasurer for a scientific commission that spent eleven months surveying the Isthmus of Tehuantepec for the proposed Atlantic-Pacific canal. The story the naval officer tells of the discovery of the statues informs us of the lengths that were expended to obtain archaeological materials for the National Museum, and reveals the attitudes of the dominant criollos towards the indigenous peoples and their archaeological heritage.
The island was a significant geographical point for the survey mission because its peak is meters above sea level and a marker placed on the summit could be seen from a great distance. Today the large rock outcrop on the island is known as Cerro Venado Deer Mountain. The large effigies were found perched on a ledge of the mountain, completely intact, and associated with the assemblage were a number of glazed ceramic vessels with vestiges of plants and candles, indicating that the site had been used for rituals in relatively recent times.
When they were removed and placed in a canoe for the crossing to the mainland, the choppy waters between the island and the mainland so violently rocked the vessel that many of the prized pieces were shattered.
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Fortunately two of the large effigies from Manopostiac arrived to Mexico City relatively intact. And what can we say about this other masked figure, without hands or feet? III, p. The peculiar features of these pre-Hispanic figures repelled and fascinated the writer of these archaeological notes.
Their distortion and exaggeration were reflections of the grotesquerie associated with Indian art at the time, perhaps because they visually contradicted the natural world of which we are all a part Kayser, The effigies were embodiments of the monstrous and the anomalous, concepts with deep roots in nineteenth-century literature. There was an unusual parallel with the way these artifacts were presented —somewhere between freak and specimen— that coincided with the descriptions of spectacular deformities that appeared in the same literary-scientific context.
Manuel Ortega, a well-known physician in Oaxaca with an important archaeological cabinet, described dissected conjoined twins who had died at birth Figure 6. He added that no one should be scandalized, as the subject had been treated with the greatest decency, and that in Mexico there were no other appropriate scientific journals that could publish such findings with the accompanying graphics. The medical examination of the children and the graphic evidence of their dissection fed a nineteenth-century fascination with natural deviance, both as phenomena itself and a sign of its other: normalcy.
The disturbing images of human specimens intersected with the archaeological artifacts in an almost nightmarish way, and ultimately helped define the overall esthetic of this literary format. The exotic included not only man and his abnormalities but also nature. The New World was teeming with life and landscapes that seemed to defy explanation but at the same time required minute description in both text and illustration. Nature appears in these scenes as a background that is traveled, and graphically it was common to see people moving through the compositions, lending them scale in the process.
The taste for ruins in Romantic art penetrated Europe in a significant way in the nineteenth century, changing pictorial conventions and even how English gardens were composed. Ruins are depicted overgrown with plants and trees, even though in many cases the artist may have significantly altered the vegetation before drawing the scene; and in an apparent contradiction, the irregularity of nature was forced to conform to pictorial conventions. Competence in producing a faithful record is often in conflict with aesthetic concerns, and one feature of early antiquarianism is the quest to achieve a graphic style that was maximally informative.
So while the esthetic precepts of the picturesque were solidly part of the Mexican literary journals graphic and textual design, new ways of seeing and rendering gradually crept in. Others, however, were locally produced. He made a sketch of the structure and in perfect picturesque prose described the moment when they first set eyes on the ruin:.
The rendering he made of the ruin may seem amateurish Figure 7 , but in fact it is rich in many details that can only be revealed by a close reading of the accompanying narrative to which it was tied. Carrillo y Ancona was infuriated with the presence of the offerings and felt that the Indians were immersed in superstition and barbarity. Source: Redon The poetic picturesqueness of the ruins, represented both graphically and textually, began to fade and was gradually replaced by other types of images.
These images were still clinging to a picturesque tradition, but the human figure is inserted for scale, and the drawing simplified so we can appreciate the complex greca-designs of the famed palaces. On the same page there were two line drawings of artifacts found at the site of Cuilapan, executed in a style that is identical to how many artifacts are still presented in archaeological studies today.
Archaeological illustration was entering a phase of reduced detail.
A. R. MARSH
Advances in archaeology as a discipline coincide —unevenly— with the gradual acceptance of new ways of seeing and representing antiquities, and of course with technical developments in publishing, such as printmaking technologies and eventually photography. But it is also important to understand that these processes are also subject to the politics of identity and how people wanted to perceive their past. The illustrated articles the Mexican literary journals produced around the middle of the nineteenth century represent the first flowering of a nationalistic archaeology. From a close reading of the articles in this journal, we have evidenced that what started out as projects to improve national infrastructure, such as highways and the interoceanic canal, morphed into a side campaign to document the largely unknown ruins discovered in their path, and became an opportunity to collect antiquities for the National Museum.
The findings were brought to the public via the new literary format, enabled by publishers anxious not only to sell books but also to create a new national agenda. Even after the war ended, with the definitive annexation by the United States of a substantial portion of previously Mexican territory, politics and society continued to be dominated by conflict —often bloody.
But the seed had already been planted.