Loading Events

« All Events

  • This event has passed.

AIA-New York Society Lecture – Virginia Miller

November 5, 2018 @ 6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

$5 – $25

Skeletons, Skulls, and Bones in the Art of Chichen Itza
Virginia Miller, Professor Emerita, University of Illinois–Chicago

Refreshments to precede lecture at 6:00 PM
Explorers Club, 46 East 70th Street

The Aztecs considered the bones of slain captives to be powerful, a belief probably shared by the earlier Maya: one Maya hieroglyph for “captive” translates as “bone”, for example. Nevertheless, during the Classic period (A.D. 300-900) at southern Maya sites like Tikal and Yaxchilán, war-related imagery focuses more on the capture and humiliation of enemies than on their sacrificial deaths or their post-mortem remains. In contrast, at northern Maya sites in Yucatán and at Chichén Itzá in particular, battle scenes, sacrifice, skulls, and bones are frequent themes in reliefs, murals, and other media such as jade and gold. The skull rack, a new architectural form decorated with sculpted impaled skulls and marching warriors bearing severed heads, was prominently placed right next to the massive ballcourt. Even when no human heads were on display, these reliefs may have served as a grim reminder of the potential power of Chichén’s rulers. Why this upsurge in graphic sacrificial and death imagery between about A.D. 800 and 1000? Were the Itzá militarily more successful than their predecessors? Why are both victors and defeated presented in groups and anonymously, in contrast to the southern Maya practice of naming individual captors and captives? Did the northern Maya practice human sacrifice on a more massive scale, foreshadowing later Aztec practices? These are just some of the questions to be addressed in the lecture.

(Brush National Lecture. Presented with the Explorers Club)

Click here to purchase tickets online

Member Ticket Price: $10

Guest Ticket Price: $25

Student Ticket Price: $5 with a valid student ID


November 5, 2018
6:30 pm - 8:00 pm
$5 – $25


AIA–New York Society, in association with the Explorers Club


Explorers Society
46 East 70th Street
New York, NY 10021
+ Google Map