Juliet Wiersema
Juliet Wiersema

In “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” Indiana Jones travels to northern Peru searching for a golden representation of a fertility goddess secreted in an ancient temple.   The temple itself is an architectural wonder that’s at once intriguing, terrifying and cleverly booby trapped.

Art Historian Juliet Wiersema’s field work in Peru and her other research have revealed that pottery from the Moche civilization of ancient Peru (200-850 A.D.)  preserves aspects of that people’s monumental architecture which have been compromised by centuries of treasure hunting, erosion, and cataclysmic events.

She will discuss the relationship between Moche architecture and its pottery in a 3:30 p.m. lecture on Thursday (Feb. 19) in the Great Room of the Arizona Senior Academy.

Some Moche pots actually include schematic diagrams of specific and identifiable sacred structures.

She has also found that many pots are acoustic artifacts, indicating that the Moche considered certain architectural forms to be vocal or even animate.  Whether these schematic architectural representations and animate beings might include rolling rocks and springing spikes to trap tomb robbers remains a mystery.

But Wiersema’s work does offer important new perspectives on ancient architectural representations in the New World.   And it complements studies of architectural models from Old World cultures in Egypt and China, which are also among Indian Jones’ favorite stomping grounds.

Wiersema is an Assistant Professor in the Art and Art History Department at UTexas, San Antonio.  She holds an M.A. from NYU and a Ph.D. from the University of Maryland.  She has held research positions at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the Smithsonian Institution’s National Museum of the American Indian, and The Library of Congress. She was a US Student Fulbright Fellow to Peru in 2007-2008.

Written by Stan Davis, Academy Village Volunteer

Ancient Peruvian Architecture Linked to Its Pottery: Feb.2015
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