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Volume Editor: Alessia Frassani
This volume explores how visual arts functioned in the indigenous pre- and post-conquest New World as vehicles of social, religious, and political identity. Twelve scholars in the field of visual arts examine indigenous artistic expressions in the American continent from the pre-Hispanic age to the present. The contributions offer new interpretations of materials, objects, and techniques based on a critical analysis of historical and iconographic sources and argue that indigenous agency in the continent has been primarily conceived and expressed in visual forms in spite of the textual epistemology imposed since the conquest.

Contributors are: Miguel Arisa, Mary Brown, Ananda Cohen-Aponte, Elena FitzPatrick Sifford, Alessia Frassani, Jeremy James George, Orlando Hernández Ying, Angela Herren Rajagopalan, Keith Jordan, Lorena Tezanos Toral, Marcus B. Burke, and Lawrence Waldron.
The open access publication of this book has been published with the support of the Swiss National Science Foundation.

In Shrines in a Fluid Space: The Shaping of New Holy Sites in the Ionian Islands, the Peloponnese and Crete under Venetian Rule (14th-16th Centuries), Argyri Dermitzaki reconstructs the devotional experiences within the Greek realm of the Venetian Stato da Mar of Western European pilgrims sailing to Jerusalem. The author traces the evolution of the various forms of cultic sites and the perception of them as nodes of a wider network of the pilgrims’ ‘holy topography’. She scrutinises travelogues in conjunction with archaeological, visual and historical evidence and offers a study of the cultic phenomena and sites invested with exceptional meaning at the main ports of call of the pilgrims’ galleys in the Ionian Sea, the Peloponnese and Crete.
Volume Editors: Megan Henvey, Amanda Doviak, and Jane Hawkes
Bringing together the work of scholars from disparate fields of enquiry, this volume provides a timely and stimulating exploration of the themes of transmission and translation, charting developments, adaptations and exchanges – textual, visual, material and conceptual – that reverberated across the medieval world, within wide-ranging temporal and geographical contexts. Such transactions generated a multiplicity of fusions expressed in diverse and often startling ways – architecturally, textually and through peoples’ lived experiences – that informed attitudes of selfhood and ‘otherness’, senses of belonging and ownership, and concepts of regionality, that have been further embraced in modern and contemporary arenas of political and cultural discourse.
Contributors are Tarren Andrews, Edel Bhreathnach, Cher Casey, Katherine Cross, Amanda Doviak, Elisa Foster, Matthias Friedrich, Jane Hawkes, Megan Henvey, Aideen Ireland, Alison Killilea, Ross McIntire, Lesley Milner, John Mitchell, Nino Simonishvili, and Rachael Vause.

Abstract

This paper reports the results of an archaeological survey and test excavation conducted in one of the ancient megalithic stele sites in south Ethiopia, Sakaro Sodo. The Sakaro Sodo stele site is situated in Gedeo zone, which is known to have the largest number and highest concentration of megalithic stele monuments in Africa, with an estimate of more than 10,000 stelae in sixty or more sites. Prior to our work, only one absolute date was available (850 ± 40 BP) (Joussaume 2012) from a stele site in the Gedeo zone, suggesting stele sites began to be constructed in the region approximately a millennium ago. We report here new AMS dates suggesting that stelae were being emplaced about 2000 BP, pushing the creation of these monuments back at least a millennium. Additionally, we report preliminary findings from characterizing the geochemical properties of obsidian artifacts recovered from stele sites, and stone used to make stelae. While compositional analysis of obsidian suggests long-distance movement of material from sources located in northern Kenya, petrographic microscopy and electron microprobe analyses show a strong connection of stelae to local geological tuff exposures/sources.

In: Journal of African Archaeology

Abstract

The article presents important results from the Middle Draa Project (MDP) in southern Morocco related to two mid-1st millennium CE hilltop settlements (hillforts) that were associated with significant rock art assemblages. The combination of detailed survey and radiocarbon dating of these remarkable sites provides a unique window on the Saharan world in which the pecked engravings, predominantly of horses, were produced. As the horse imagery featured on the walls of buildings within the settlement, the radiocarbon dating around the mid-1st millennium CE can also be applied in this instance to the rock art. The rarity of rock art of this period within habitation sites is also discussed and it is argued that its occurrence at both these locations indicates that they had some special social or sacred significance for their occupants. While it is commonplace for rock art of this era, featuring horses and camels, to be attributed by modern scholars to mobile pastoralists, a further argument of the paper is that the desert societies were in a period of transformation at this time, with the development of oases. The association of the rock art imagery with sedentary settlements, where grain was certainly being processed and stored, is thus an additional new element of contextual information for the widespread Saharan images of horses and horse and riders.

Open Access
In: Journal of African Archaeology
The prestigious MDP series, started in 1899, has published excavation reports of various sites of ancient Iran as well as studies on the archaeological material excavated there. The present continuation of this series will pursue these same aims on an international level.

The series published one volume over the last 5 years.

Abstract

This article explores the dynamics of adoption and re-adaptation of European visual culture evident in the production of the series of canonical and apocryphal archangel paintings produced in the Andes during the colonial period. Referencing the theoretical framework proposed by Raquel Chang-Rodríguez (1999) that suggests that behind an item of apparent assimilation there are elements of cultural resistance, this research aims to elucidate the elements of indigenous religiosity that survived within an apparently European visual context using the paintings as documents. The archangel paintings, originally informed by Italian artists, suffered a process of assimilation and transformation by Andean artists who turned them from a symbol of the conquerors and their military might into a symbol of Andean identity, nonconformity, and validation under the Spanish imperial rule.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas

Abstract

The word bohío was used in the Caribbean to designate the houses of the indigenous population: simple one-room structures made with local materials such as palms and thatched roofs. In Cuba, the bohío became a hybrid architectural construction, originally conceived by the Taínos, later adopted and modified by the Spaniards in the early years of the colony, and lastly assigned to the African slave quarters in nineteenth-century Cuban sugar plantations with additional changes to the general schema made by them. This evolution is traced through the analysis of historical and literary sources, from sixteenth-century Cronistas de Indias to nineteenth-century traveler and costumbrista writers.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas

Abstract

As the influence of the Spanish Inquisition increased in the decades following the Spanish conquest of Mexico, it became increasingly common for indigenous tlacuiloque, or artist-scribes, to replace pictographic images of pre-Hispanic deities with iconography related to the Christian devil. This paper examines this practice in relation to the depiction of the devil and the diabolic as they are recorded in the Florentine Codex, a sixteenth-century manuscript that combines Spanish and Nahuatl texts with pictographic images.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas

Abstract

The ancient Mesoamerican manuscripts generally known as “Borgia Group” share a religious content matter, understood to be primarily divinatory in nature since the work of Nowotny. According to this view, images in the Borgia Group manuscripts are emblematic susceptible to different readings when consulted at every new occasion. Nowotny himself recognized, however, that a few sections do not follow a strict divinatory partition based on the 260-day calendar, but rather describe ceremonial actions, taking on a narrative and discursive character generally absent from the mantic sections. This article focuses on how divination overlaps with ritual and ceremony in Codex Laud, a manuscript that presents the greatest number of sections without any clear parallel in other codices. By focusing on Laud’s unique structure, iconography, and calendrics my analysis attempts to shed some light on its internal logic.

In: Visual Culture and Indigenous Agency in the Early Americas