Course Title:  01:082:333  Pre-Columbian Art

Academic Credits:  3 credits

Mode of Instruction:  Lecture

Course Prerequisites and Corequisites: None

Core Curriculum: None

Course Description:

Art and archaeology of pre-Columbian North and South America; major contributions of the Olmec, Mayan, and Aztec peoples.

Pre-Columbian art, investigates the pre-conquest civilizations of Middle America: the Olmec, Teotihuacan, the Maya, the Toltec, and the Aztec cultures.  It emphasizes the roles of shamanism, hallucinogenic voyages to the world of spirits, the importance of water and maize, and human sacrifice.  I hope to explore recent discoveries such as that of liquid mercury underneath the pyramid of the serpent at Teotihuacan and that of Maya murals at San Bartolo, Guatemala.  Some discoveries are not yet clearly understood, so there is room for students to explore this material and advance new hypotheses.  At the end of the course we will discuss the themes that link all the Middle American, pre-hispanic cultures.

Learning Goals:

Required and Recommended Course Materials:

All the required texts will be on reserve in the Art Library.  Every text can be found in paperback and a good number on line.

Diehl, Richard A. The Olmecs: America’s First Civilization.  London: Thames and Hudson, 2004 ISBN 0-500-02119-8.

Miller, Mary Ellen.  Maya Art and Architecture.  New York: Thames and Hudson, 1999.  ISBN 0-500-20327-X.

Demarest, Arthur.  Ancient Maya the Rise and Fall of a Rainforest Civilization. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2005. ISBN 0-521-533-902

Townsend, Richard. The Aztecs.  New York: Thames and Hudson, 2000. ISBN 0-500-281-327

Taube, Karl.  Aztec and Maya Myths.  Austin : University of Texas Press, 1993  ISBN 0-292-78130-X.


There will be a geographic quiz towards the beginning of the course in addition to a mid-term and a final exam.  Each exam will have several broad essay questions.  I may also give unannounced quizzes.  I do not give makeup exams.  Those who are ill for an exam must bring a doctor’s note to me.  Any student who is missing for a death in the family must call or warn me at the appropriate time.   





Professor Sarah Brett-Smith

Disclaimer:  These course descriptions/synopses pages have been provided as samples and the information should not be considered accurate or current.  For actual course information, refer to the course site hosted by a Rutgers Learning Management System (Sakai, Canvas, etc.) as of first day of class.