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Lecture on Mesoamerican symbols at County Museum

Andrew Turner will present a guest lecture at the San Bernardino County Museum in Redlands entitled “Reptilian Symbolism and Cosmology in Ancient Mesoamerica” on Wednesday
evening, October 26, at 7:30 p.m. The lecture, open to the public, is free.


Andrew Turner received B.A. degrees in Art History and Classics from the University of Arizona and a Master’s in Anthropology from UC Riverside. His research interests include the art, symbolism, and religion of ancient Mesoamerica, the Andes, and the American Southwest, and he has traveled extensively to archaeological sites and collections in Mexico and
Peru. Andrew has given several public presentations on Mesoamerican and Andean archaeology, and has worked as a curatorial intern at the Tucson Museum of Art and LACMA. He is currently a doctoral student at UC Riverside working on a dissertation in Anthropology on ancient Central Mexican art and writing systems, as well as a Master’s thesis in Art History on ceramic arts in ancient Peru.


“My presentation investigates artwork spanning three millennia in Mexico and Central America,” said Turner. “I will explore the metaphorical underpinnings of depictions of reptiles in Mesoamerican religion and cosmology.”


Ancient Mesoamerican peoples relied on close observation of the natural world and its inhabitants in order to understand the workings of the cosmos. For cultures such as the Olmec, Maya, and Aztec, the world was often understood through a series of rich metaphors involving reptiles. The earth could be viewed as a massive crocodile, turtle, or iguana, and maize, a staple of Mesoamerican diets, was frequently imbued with reptilian attributes. Occasionally symbolism converged, casting the life-sustaining World Tree at the center of the cosmos as a reptile that sprouts maize from its tail. These metaphors can be understood through observation of the characteristics and behaviors of reptiles.



The San Bernardino County Museum is at the California Street exit from Interstate 10 in Redlands. The museum is open Tuesdays through Sundays from 9 am to 5pm. Parking is free. For more information, visit The museum is accessible to persons with disabilities. If assistive listening devices or other auxiliary aids are needed in order to participate in museum exhibits or programs, requests should be made through Museum Visitor Services at least three business days prior to your visit. Visitor Services’ telephone number is 909-307-2669 ext. 229 or (TDD) 909-792-1462.

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