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Georgetown University


Detailed Course Information


Fall 2017
Sep 23, 2021
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ARTH 417 - Sacrifice in Pre-Columbian Art
From ancient Maya bloodletting to Inca mummy bundles, civilizations of the ancient Americas are known for their practice of sacrifice, including the sacrifice of humans. This practice is often sensationalized in popular culture, but as we will explore in this investigative seminar, sacrifice in the Americas was deeply rooted in indigenous belief systems of reciprocity and power. In this class we will consider practices of sacrifice through the lens of art, studying its role in politics, warfare, and religion. The seminar begins with a brief look at sacrifice in world cultures, including ancient Greece and China. We will then consider the practice of sacrifice in a variety of Pre-Columbian cultures in Mesoamerica and South America. Studying depictions of sacrifice and sacrifice-related activities, we will also consider available archaeological evidence. The aim of this course is to move beyond the sensationalism of human sacrifice to place it in context and understand its role in the lives of ancient Americans. We will have the opportunity to visit area collections, including Dumbarton Oaks, to study objects in person.
No previous knowledge of Pre-Columbian art or culture is required or assumed.

Structure: Weekly meetings will be divided between brief lectures, discussion, and student presentations on specific objects.

Texts: Primary and secondary texts (including articles and excerpts of longer volumes) will be 
provided through Blackboard.

Evaluation: Participation in discussion, student presentations, and research paper.

3.000 Credit hours
3.000 Lecture hours

Levels: MN or MC Graduate, Undergraduate
Schedule Types: Seminar

Art & Art History Department

Course Attributes:
Mean Grade is Calculated

Must be enrolled in one of the following Majors:     
      Art History
      Art History
Must be enrolled in one of the following Classifications:     

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