COLLOQUIUM: Claire Lyons, Getty, "Altera Roma—The Classical World Encounters the Aztecs"

Thursday, April 7, 2016 - 4:30pm to 6:00pm

402 Cohen Hall

In the Age of Exploration, the world-changing confrontation between Europe and Mesoamerica was mediated by ancient Rome. Spain's conquest of Mexico in the 1500s coincided with the Renaissance rediscovery of antiquity. Seen through the prism of classical literature and imagery, Tenochtitlán became "another Rome," and Spanish authorities drew parallels between two great empires to guide and critique their imperial mission abroad. A three-way dialogue between the Old and the New Worlds was the premise for an exhibition that explored some unexpected episodes of cultural encounter. Displaying Aztec material culture in a neo-Pompeian setting amid ancient Mediterranean art, however, also presented curatorial challenges.  Comparative approaches to the archaeology of empire helped bridge the gulf between cultures that were widely separated in time and space. In museums with collections from different ancient societies, what are the advantages and limitations of analogy?