This volume considers the significance of stone monuments in Preclassic Mesoamerica, focusing on the period following the precocious appearance of monumental sculpture at the Olmec site of San Lorenzo and preceding the rise of the Classic polities in the Maya region and Central Mexico. By quite literally “placing” sculptures in their cultural, historical, social, political, religious, and cognitive contexts, the seventeen contributors utilize archaeological and art historical methods to understand the origins, growth, and spread of civilization in Middle America. They present abundant new data and new ways of thinking about sculpture and society in Preclassic Mesoamerica, and call into question the traditional dividing line between Preclassic and Classic cultures. They offer not only a fruitful way of rethinking the beginnings of civilization in Mesoamerica, but provide a series of detailed discussions concerning how these beginnings were dynamically visualized through sculptural programming during the Preclassic period.
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