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This book examines the functions of sculpture during the Preclassic period in Mesoamerica and its significance in statements of social identity. Julia Guernsey situates the origins and evolution of monumental stone sculpture within a broader social and political context and demonstrates the role that such sculpture played in creating and institutionalizing social hierarchies. This book focuses specifically on an enigmatic type of public, monumental sculpture known as the “potbelly” that traces its antecedents to earlier, small domestic ritual objects and ceramic figurines. The cessation of domestic rituals involving ceramic figurines along the Pacific slope coincided not only with the creation of the first monumental potbelly sculptures, but with the rise of the first state-level societies in Mesoamerica by the advent of the Late Preclassic period. The potbellies became central to the physical representation of new forms of social identity and expressions of political authority during this time of dramatic change.Read more
- First ever exploration of the social role of sculpture in Preclassic Mesoamerica
- Methodologically innovative in its use of data derived from the fields of art history, archaeology and anthropology
- Most extensive assembled inventory of Preclassic sculptures of this type, many never published before in English
- Grand Prize Winner of the 2013 University Co-op Robert W. Hamilton Book Awards
Reviews & endorsements
"This nook provides a great deal of insight into the potbelly sculptural forms in Preclassic Mesoamerica … I would recommend the book as a valuable resource to anyone interested in Mesoamerica."
Canadian Journal of Archaeology
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- Date Published: July 2012
- format: Hardback
- isbn: 9781107012462
- length: 245 pages
- dimensions: 287 x 220 x 15 mm
- weight: 1.07kg
- contains: 125 b/w illus. 2 maps 1 table
- availability: In stock
Table of Contents
2. Potbellies and sculpture: a brief history of Preclassic scholarship
3. Situating sculpture on the Preclassic Pacific slope of Mesoamerica
4. The dating and distribution of potbellies and potbelly-related sculpture
5. Blurring the lines: public space, private space, sculpture, and figurines
6. Big bellies and fat gods
7. Potbellies, ancestors, and performance
8. Potbellies and social identity in the Preclassic.
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