Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire
September 26, 2017 4:10 PM   Subscribe

There was a new hole in the ground, which led to an ancient tunnel, which led to unseen wonders. This fabulous exhibit opens in San Francisco on 30 Sept. And it's a pretty spiffy website, too.
posted by MovableBookLady (19 comments total) 55 users marked this as a favorite
 
This looks like a killer exhibit. I'd love to get tickets for my niece, and any of her pals in San Francisco. Her birthday is soon and if I can, this is what I'd want to gift her.

Now I need a cup of tea so I can finish working through all this material. Thanks for the post!
posted by ezust at 5:00 PM on September 26, 2017


Thank you for posting this! This is the sort of thing I usually hear about too late.
posted by ActingTheGoat at 5:32 PM on September 26, 2017


So jealous, since I'm about as far away from the exhibition as one can get in the continental US. Thank you for sharing the discoveries.
posted by halfbuckaroo at 5:41 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


This is the best Hypercard stack I've ever seen...

All kidding aside, it is no-kidding amazing, and well worth exploring the interface at leisure. The tunnel that represents the underworld is a wonder in and of itself, and sets off all kinds of flights of imagination.

A point of order, tho, is that the first city in the Americas, which means evidence of permanent habitation, agriculture and monumental architecture, is at Aspero, in Peru. (Well, it's the oldest we've yet discovered.) Dated to 3700bce, it rivals the oldest cities in Mesopotamia and Africa held to the same definition.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:47 PM on September 26, 2017 [6 favorites]


What a great read. I spent a good part of the last hour reading up on the difference between Teotihuacan and Tenochtitlan, which are not the same but are at least related. Thank you for sharing. :)
posted by Hermione Granger at 5:50 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


FYI for SoCal folks: The exhibit is scheduled to move to LACMA after it closes at the De Young. (New Discoveries From Ancient City of Teotihuacan to Be Shown in US Exhibition, Alanna Martinez, observer.com)
After closing at the de Young, the exhibition is expected to travel on to the Los Angeles County Museum of Art where a selection of its delicately painted mural fragments made from plaster and stucco, crafted between 500 and 550 A.D., will be reunited with shards in LACMA’s collections which were discovered in the same residential compound at Teotihuacan.
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 9:59 PM on September 26, 2017 [4 favorites]


Thank you, Sockin'inthefreeworld! I was all prepared to be bummed about not making it to SF in time, but I can get to LACMA!
posted by Fish, fish, are you doing your duty? at 10:46 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


Honestly I'm tempted to fly up to SF for a weekend instead of waiting a few months till LACMA...
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 10:55 PM on September 26, 2017 [1 favorite]


I'm generally pretty grumpy about that kind of web design, but it seems to be fairly well executed, this time.

I give it two out of five grumps.
posted by b1tr0t at 11:53 PM on September 26, 2017 [2 favorites]


If you want a conventional description of the show, this Guardian article is good.

Not Teotihuacan, but I'm haunted by these Mixtec masks that are at the British Museum. They are exquisitely beautiful turquoise mosaics.
posted by Nelson at 12:51 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


Many years ago as a linguistic anthropology grad student I had to take an archaeology seminar as a requirement and lucked into one taught by the soon-to-pass away Jerry Epstein, who had worked at Teotihuacan. Most classes involved him taking long digressions on the wonder he felt working there and his love for the local communities around the site. Didn't learn much theory in than seminar, but it's always left a desire in me to see the place someday.
posted by spitbull at 4:41 AM on September 27, 2017


You know, if you're gonna *fly* to see this exhibit, you could also fly to Mexico City and take the bus to Teotihuacan. The site is amazing. You don't get a sense of the scale of it unless you're there. While in town, you could visit the world renowned Museo Nacional de Antropología, which houses a permanent Teotihuacan exhibit among its many wonders.
posted by chrchr at 8:19 AM on September 27, 2017 [5 favorites]


Are there mockups anywhere of how the lakes of liquid mercury in the tunnel actually looked? I presume the exhibit won't have pools of mercury just lying around...
posted by kersplunk at 8:53 AM on September 27, 2017 [1 favorite]


I am enjoying this post and the associated links - thanks! I'm very pleased to see that this exhibit is just up the road from me - I plan on getting tickets and checking it out. A YT video I recently watched has rekindled my interest in learning more about several ancient megalithic civilizations and their major works, including Teotihuacan. The precision engineering and physical labor necessary to build a site like this, with (what we imagine to be) the tech and tools available at the time of construction is just mind boggling.
posted by mosk at 10:20 AM on September 27, 2017


Really cool, though this statement about the area around the Feathered Serpent Pyramid made me wonder what the alien archaeologists will think about our fantastic culture that managed to wipe itself out in a few generations :/

It is situated in a plaza known as the Ciudadela (“Citadel”), a place for Teotihuacanos to gather and engage in large public rituals.


Alien Overlord Archaeologist: "These marble structures and buildings anchored what was called the "National Mall," a place for Am-eri-cans to gather and engage in large public rituals."
posted by Hermeowne Grangepurr at 11:32 AM on September 27, 2017


Really cool, though this statement about the area around the Feathered Serpent Pyramid made me wonder what the alien archaeologists will think about our fantastic culture that managed to wipe itself out in a few generations :/

Did you guys ever read The Motel of the Mysteries? It's a lovely and hilarious picture book about how future archeologists misinterpret their excavation of modern-day America. They assign sacred significance to all sorts of stuff, like toilet bowls or McDonalds signs or cloverleaf interchanges. A lot of the illustrations are direct parodies of famous archeology photographs.

I always have that running in the back of my mind when reading archeology stuff. Flooding the building to reenact the primordial sea? Using volcanic rock to depict fire gods? How do we know what the true motives were?
posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 1:56 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


You know, if you're gonna *fly* to see this exhibit, you could also fly to Mexico City and take the bus to Teotihuacan.

Going to Teotihuacan was my first thought (and wish!), and I'd consider it if...international travel weren't so fraught and intimidating right now.

posted by Sockin'inthefreeworld at 2:00 PM on September 27, 2017


Alien Overlord Archaeologist: "These marble structures and buildings anchored what was called the "National Mall," a place for Am-eri-cans to gather and engage in large public rituals."
We *do* gather and engage in public rituals on the National Mall. These include presidential inaugurations, protests, and holiday observances like 4th of July!
posted by chrchr at 2:11 PM on September 27, 2017 [2 favorites]


How do we know what the true motives were?

That is a very interesting question with a lot of very interesting answers that are at the root of archaeology. Namely, we are all people, and they didn't develop their culture in a vacuum, nor were the echoes of their people lost to the wind immediately after their decline.

These are people, and we have a lot of historical and linguistic and archaeological and anthropological information that ties us all together in a journey larger than ourselves, our communities, or our times.

The awesome thing about archaeology isn't discovering something new and unprecedented with a dig, tho that's always exciting, it's finding clues to the larger picture. How a people a hundred miles or a hundred years off thought of their volcanic-stone brazier-headed god is revealed by a more complete fresco here, or perhaps a jade miniature there, or this or that sort of burned crop in evidence in the vicinity.

Yeah, Archaeologists, Anthropologists, Linguists and Historians sometimes have mistaken notions. The notions are informed by direct evidence weighed against a larger body of evidence and the patterns it produces, they're not blind guesses. Some things will simply be unknowable, and we need to take our best guess, other things will be honed and intensified with new discovery and scholarship, other things blunted and discarded, and such is science. It gives me chills to know we can follow the evolution of Heiroglyphics from proto-language to writing. I thrill to discover a linguistic and anthropological link between Turkey and Japan. I love how there are three times as many pyramids in Sudan as in Egypt, and that the city of Jericho has been an inhabited agricultural and trade community for more than 11,000 years.

What we don't know could fill libraries, true. What we do know does fill libraries. Wonders and epics and mysteries we all belong to.

Science, yo.
posted by Slap*Happy at 5:20 PM on September 27, 2017 [7 favorites]


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