A Conversation with Hillary Olcott, Assistant Curator, Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco: Mapping Teotihuacan
The ancient city of Teotihuacan was never lost and then rediscovered but has been known and venerated since its beginnings in the 1st century CE. The earliest pictorial representations of the site date to the mid-16th century. These, as well as later 19th and 20th century depictions, show Teotihuacan as a ceremonial space with monumental pyramids. It was not until the 1960s that Teotihuacan came to be understood as a city, and not just a city but the largest urban environment in the Western Hemisphere during its time. This concept was formed by the Teotihuacan Mapping Project, spearheaded by Rene Millon, and then widely disseminated by way of their 1973 volume, Urbanization at Teotihuacan, Mexico. This map has been reproduced in nearly every subsequent publication about the site. It forms an image of Teotihuacan as a metropolis and is the foundation for much of what we know about the site as an urban space. But maps are not empirical. They are tools of communication, created for a specific purpose. This presentation will present a chronological view of the maps of Teotihuacan. Through an exploration of the maps’ contexts, we can learn more about cartographic trends, sociopolitical changes in Mexico, and the shifting views of Teotihuacan.
Hillary Olcott is the assistant curator in the Department of the Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. She was the de Young’s institutional curator for the recent special exhibition, Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire (September 30, 2017 – February 11, 2018). This presentation is derived from the research that she did for an essay in the exhibition’s catalogue entitled, Mapping Teotihuacan.
Free and open to the public. RSVP required. Link to RSVP: https://goo.gl/forms/2g1AlAPn3Hn2SqSD2