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11 March 2020The Splendour of Ancient Mexico and Peru

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The Splendour of Ancient Mexico and Peru Chloe Sayer Wednesday 11 March 2020

Ancient burial grounds in Mexico and Peru have yielded up dazzling goldwork, fine ceramic vessels and some of the richest textiles in the world. Before the Spanish conquest of 1519, numerous civilizations rose and fell; the Olmecs, Maya and the warlike Aztec all forged their own unique and splendid styles on Mexican soils. In Peru the Incas developed one of the greatest planned societies that the world has known. As well as telling their stories Chloe will display contemporary textiles from her own collection.

The civilisation of the ancient Maya reached its peak between AD 300-900. Dozens of great cities have been located, many still buried in remote parts of the jungle. Intricately carved stone panels, ceramic figurines and splendid mural paintings provide an insight into the religious rituals, music, warfare, textiles and courtly life of the ancient Maya.

The Aztecs flourished between 1325 and 1521, when they surrendered to invading Spanish forces. Tenochtitlan, the shimmering Aztec city, was built on a lake. This Venice of the New World, with a population of 250,000 inhabitants, lay at the heart of a vast empire. Military might was accompanied by exceptional developments in art and architecture.

Today the indigenous legacy is impressive. Five centuries have passed since the Spanish Conquest, yet Mexico remains home to over sixty Native peoples. Popular art forms combine Aztec, Maya and Spanish traditions. Contemporary craftsmen and women create splendid weavings, rich embroideries, shimmering beadwork, jewellery of silver and gold, ingenious toys, imaginative figures of papier mâché, pottery, and finely carved wooden dance-masks. Celebrations and religious holidays are visually splendid: although they are inspired by Christianity, they have their roots in the distant past.

The price per person for the day is £25, plus optional buffet lunch, £7.

Booking for LAS members is now open; general public are very welcome too; booking opens on 14 January. For full information and to book, please click on Our Society tab, Documents, or email:

Photo: Temple-pyramid at the Maya city of Uxmal on the Yucatan Peninsula (courtesy of Chloë Sayer)