AIA Lecture: Cavities and Holes in Mesoamerican Material Culture

When and Where

Tuesday, February 23, 2021 6:00 pm to 8:00 pm
Online via Zoom


Andrew Finegold, Assistant Professor, University of Illinois at Chicago


The AIA Toronto Society and the Archaeology Centre at the University of Toronto present an illustrated lecture:

"Vital Voids: Cavities and Holes in Mesoamerican Material Culture"
Prof. Andrew Finegold, Assistant Professor of Visual Culture of the Ancient Americas, University of Illinois at Chicago

Tuesday, February 23, 2021
6 pm ET
Online via Zoom

This event is free but registration is required. Register using the button at the top of this page or via the Archaeology Centre's registration website.


Anchored by the close analysis of a single object— a Late Classic Maya codex-style dish known as the Resurrection Plate—this talk examines a variety of empty spaces created in diverse grounds in the material culture of ancient Mesoamerica. It is argued that these collectively reflect a fundamental metaphysical conception held by Mesoamerican peoples of holes and voids as necessary prerequisites for the emergence of life and its associated creative energies and material abundance. With iconography that appears to have anticipated the hole that was eventually drilled through its center as part of a regionally prevalent funerary practice by creating imagery that, the planned interaction of the imagery with this hole in the Resurrection Plate evokes a variety of beliefs and practices related to the act of perforation that were broadly shared across Mesoamerica. These include the breaking open of the earth to release its agricultural abundance, the drilling of fire, and the piercing of human flesh. Taken together, these associations serve to demonstrate the consistent, widespread, and transmedial experience of voids as fecund nodes of generative potential.

Contact Information


AIA Toronto Society, Archaeology Centre at the University of Toronto