The Arizona Museum of Natural History has recently received major donations of objects from the American Southwest, Mesoamerica, and the Andes region of South America. The museum has opened a new exhibition, Cultures of the Ancient Americas, created solely from the new gifts. These magnificent objects offer insights into the cultures that produced them and underscore the monumental achievements of ancient peoples from New Mexico to Bolivia. We also celebrate the extraordinary generosity of our donors, who made the exhibition possible. Moche materials are the gift of Walter Knox of Scottsdale, AZ. Over the next several weeks AzMNH’s Museum Musings will highlight these objects and the cultures they represent, and suggest the special experience awaiting visitors to the exhibition.
Working with American archaeologists Betty Meggars and Cifford Evans, Estrada advanced the idea that similarities between Valdivian pottery and the early Jomon pottery of Japan showed that the two areas had been in contact. However, transcontinental contact could not be supported with any direct evidence. Science looks into many interesting ideas, many of which are found not to be valid. It is part of the scientific process to develop well-structured ideas and to test them against actual archaeological evidence. "The real purpose of the scientific method is to make sure nature hasn’t misled you into thinking you know something you actually don’t know." Robert M. Pirsig, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance.
Stone Figure "Owls"
Valdivia Culture, 2300-2000 BCE
These Valdivian "owls" are one of the unique types of artifacts produced by the Valdivian culture. Valdivian artisans’ ability to make precise cuts, grooves and corners in the stone without modern tools shows a great deal of skill. The resulting sculptures, while among the earliest in the Americas, appear remarkably modern. These carvings might have been used as grave markers or guardian figures.
3 Tree of Life Vessels with Applique
Jama-Coaque, 350 BCE-600 CE
(Join us in two weeks for part 4 )