Themes in the Art of the Preclassic Period

Mary e. Pye

in The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology

Published in print September 2012 | ISBN: 9780195390933
Published online November 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks

 Themes in the Art of the Preclassic Period

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  • Archaeology
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  • History of Art


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This brief article on Preclassic-period art considers some recurrent themes and discusses some new approaches and recent finds. Specifically, it discusses chronology and the transition from the Archaic to Preclassic Period, and Olmec art. The Preclassic period is perhaps the true “florescent” era, at least for Mesoamerican civilization as a whole, given the appearance, development, and coalescence of arguably all of its major components and features long before Classic Maya civilization. Olmec art has captured scholarly and popular attention since the first report of a colossal Olmec head by Melgar (in 1871) and has since become a hallmark of Preclassic art. Olmec-style monuments, ceramics, portable greenstone art, and figurines have been widely reported throughout Mexico, and scholars have been writing about them since the early twentieth century.

Keywords: Mesoamerican art; Preclassic period; Olmec art; florescent era; Melgar

Article.  4726 words. 

Subjects: Archaeology ; Archaeology by Region ; History of Art

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