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Leonardo López Luján Is Convocation Speaker

posted by Christopher Howard — Nov 04, 2008

Leonardo López Luján, senior researcher and professor of archaeology at the Museo del Templo Mayor, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), in Mexico City, will deliver the keynote address during Convocation at the 2009 CAA Annual Conference in Los Angeles. Convocation takes place at the Los Angeles Convention Center on Wednesday evening, February 25, 5:30–7:00 PM.

For nearly thirty years, López Luján has worked on the excavations of the Templo Mayor (Grand Temple), a fifteenth-century Aztec pyramid and its surroundings that are located in the heart of the Mexican capital; he has been director of the project since 1991. The temple lies beneath the Zócalo, also known as the Plaza de la Constitución, one of the largest public squares in the world. The project began when a monument to the Moon goddess Coyolxauhqui was found by electrical workers on the site of the old temple. During the last several years, other impressive monuments have been uncovered around the Great Temple of Tenochtitlan, among them the largest Aztec sculpture ever found, that of the Earth goddess Tlaltecuhtli.

In his talk, López Luján will focus on the most recent archaeological discoveries, while giving an overview of the history of archaeology in the Aztec capital. He will also discuss other topics, among them the recovery of the Tlaltecuhtli stone, an iconographic analysis that may unveil this sculpture’s functions and meanings, the rich offerings buried underneath it, and the possible presence of a royal tomb in this area of the sacred precinct.

Currently senior researcher at the Museo del Templo Mayor, where he has worked since 1988, López Luján is also senior professor at the Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia (ENAH) and the Escuela Nacional de Conservación, Restauración, y Museografía (ENCRyM) since 1987. He earned his doctorate in archaeology, with highest honors, at the Université de Paris-X in Nanterre in 1998. Before that he attended ENAH from 1983 to 1990, receiving a BA and MA—also with highest honors. López Luján was a fellow in Precolumbian studies in 2005–6 at Dumbarton Oaks in Washington, DC, and received a John S. Simon Guggenheim Fellowship in 2000. He has also taught and researched in Rome and Paris and at Princeton University.

López Luján has written and cowritten many books on the archaeology of Central Mexico. In The Offerings of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan (originally published in Spanish in 1993; revised by the University of New Mexico Press in 2005), he presents the spectacular findings of Templo Mayor Project—masks, jewelry, skeletal remains of jaguars and alligators, statues of gods, precious stones, and human remains—from 1978 to 1997. The first English edition, published by the University Press of Colorado in 1994, was named Outstanding Academic Book by Choice and received the Eugene M. Kayden Humanities Award.

Mexico’s Indigenous Past, authored with Alfredo López Austin (1996; second English edition: University of Oklahoma Press, 2005), offers a panoramic view of the three super-areas of ancient Mexico—Mesoamerica, Aridamerica, and Oasisamerica—which stretched from present-day Costa Rica to what is now the southwestern United States. The book begins more than thirty thousand years ago and ends with European occupation in the sixteenth century.

With Davíd Carrasco and Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, he is most recently the author of Breaking through Mexico’s Past: Digging the Aztecs with Eduardo Matos Moctezuma (Albuquerque: University of New Mexico Press, 2007), an overview of their work on the Museo del Templo Mayor.

For more on López Luján and the Templo Mayor, please download Johanna Tuckman’s “In Search of an Aztec King” from the Summer 2008 issue of American Archaeology.