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Interreligious Contact in the Roman World and in Colonial Mesoamerica: A Comparative Analysis

A225
Panel Chair: Francisco Marco Simón | Friday, August 28, 3:30-5:30 p.m. | Venue

This project brings together specialists (historians, anthropologists, archaeologists) in the Ancient World with others working in the Modern period. Considering comparison as a starting point for a better understanding of cultural specificity, we aim to analyze: 1) The use of the Classical World by the European colonizers as a model to conceptualize the conquest experience and to build the discourse on the other according to established categories (barbarism and idolatry, human sacrifice, sorcery and magic). 2) The different responses of the natives in the Roman world and in Colonial Mexico, from violence and rejection, to selective appropriation, with special attention to the role of the Christian rhetoric and the ”bricolage” in the religious systems of natives and colonizers. The panel will present specific goals of the project within the next three years.

Celia Fontana Calvo, Gonzalo Fontana Elboj

The Book of Revelation, a text for the defeated of both hemispheres

Belonging to the genre started by The Book of Daniel, The Book of Revelation constitutes the most violent and resentful allegation against the Roman domination of the whole Ancient literature. It is, therefore, a unique case of which might be denominated “literature of the defeated” in the sphere of the Roman Empire. However, fifteen centuries after its composition, the biblical text was reused in order to understand the tragedy experienced in the New World. The development of the events in the second half of the 16th century predicted a mournful and painful end for both the indigenous population and culture and the Franciscans, who had hopefully initiated the process of Christianisation. This disastrous atmosphere is essential to understand the iconography of the paintings in the church of Tecamachalco (state of Puebla), where the history of mankind includes abundant apocalyptic visions.

David Charles Wright-Carr

Persistence of native military iconography among the Otomí in New Spain

In traditional academic discourse, the military conquest of central Mexico was followed by a “spiritual conquest”, in which millions of Indians were assimilated into the Spanish political, economic, and ideological system. The study of indigenous visual expressions, as well as their alphabetic texts, reveals that the natives, far from being passive subjects in these processes, developed various strategies to preserve their power, dignity, and collective identity. The Otomí, particularly, participated in the armed colonization of the territory of the nomads on the northern frontier of Mesoamerica, as allies of the Spanish troops. Native martial iconography, centered on the solar cult, is clearly manifest in the Huamantla Map, a cartographic-historical manuscript, and in the mural paintings in the former Augustinian convent dedicated to the archangel Michael, in Ixmiquilpan, Hidalgo. Both artworks were painted during the final third of the sixteenth century.

Silvia Alfayé

Hybrid images/Imágenes mestizas: ritual & visual dynamics in Celtiberia under Roman colonization

The conquest of Celtiberia by the Romans transformed the religious and visual dynamics of native communities, whose reactions facing cultural contact and colonial domination were neither passive nor homogeneous. The Celtiberians had agency to select, reject and reinterprete the conquerors’ cultural codes according to their traditional but changing ways of being-in-the-world, creating hybrid ceremonial forms and religious images (creole art) that were used as active artefacts to show and negotiate identity in a new provincial frame. This paper deals with three aspects of those mestize images: 1) The apparition of an anthropomorphic iconography of Celtiberian gods as result of the contact with Rome, and its impact in native visual theology. 2) The colonization of the imaginary of the Celtiberian animal sacrifice. 3) The use of religious images as celebrations of warrior ideology, supports of individual & collective memories, and expressions of communal survival against the colonial pressure.

Francisco Marco Simón

Interreligious contact in the Roman World and in Colonial Mesoamerica: A Comparative Analysis

This project brings together specialists (historians, anthropologists, archaeologists) in the Ancient World with others working in the Modern period. Considering comparison as a starting point (and never as a point of arrival) for a better understanding of cultural specificity, we aim to analyze: 1) The use of the Classical World by the European colonizers as a model to conceptualize the conquest experience and to build the discourse on the other according to established categories (barbarism and idolatry, human sacrifice, sorcery and magic). 2) The different responses of the natives in the Roman World and in Colonial México, from violence and rejection, to selective appropriation, the role of Christian rhetoric and the syncretism /"bricolage" in the religious systems of natives and colonizers. Within these premises, this paper will approach to one of the specific goals of this project: the study of native human sacrifice as religious&cultural response in colonial contexts, and its role in the conqueror’s construction of “the barbarian (grizlie) Other”. Specifically, this paper focuses on the comparative analysis of two cases of sacrifices of invaders as indigenous ‘spiritual conquests’ of the conquistadores: the ritual killing of Romans by the Britons in Boudicca’s anti-colonial revolt (60-61 AD), and the immolation of the Spanish caravan captured by the inhabitants of Tecoaque-Zultepec during Hernán Cortés’ conquest of México (1520-1521 AD).

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