Night and Darkness in Ancient Mesoamerica

Edited by Nancy Gonlin and David Millard Reed, University Press of Colorado

308 pages, 6 x 963
Hardcover Release Date: 01 Nov 2021

Night and Darkness in Ancient Mesoamerica is the first volume to explicitly incorporate how nocturnal aspects of the natural world were imbued with deep cultural meanings and expressed by different peoples from various time periods in Mexico and Central America. Material culture, iconography, epigraphy, art history, ethnohistory, ethnographies, and anthropological theory are deftly used to illuminate dimensions of darkness and the night that are often neglected in reconstructions of the past.

The anthropological study of night and darkness enriches and strengthens the understanding of human behavior, power, economy, and the supernatural. In eleven case studies featuring the residents of Teotihuacan, the Classic period Maya, inhabitants of Rio Ulúa, and the Aztecs, the authors challenge archaeologists to consider the influence of the ignored dimension of the night and the role and expression of darkness on ancient behavior. Chapters examine the significance of eclipses, burials, tombs, and natural phenomena considered to be portals to the underworld; animals hunted at twilight; the use and ritual meaning of blindfolds; night-blooming plants; nocturnal foodways; fuel sources and lighting technology; and other connected practices.”

Cite this blog post
Manuel Garcia-Ruiz (2021, July 1). Night and Darkness in Ancient Mesoamerica. International Night Studies Network. Retrieved April 16, 2024, from

Manuel Garcia-Ruiz

He is a PhD Scholar at CIES-Iscte and a Research Collaborator at IS-FLUP. He research on topics such as city branding, cultural regeneration, the commodification of arts and culture, art washing, and the construction of artistic fields.

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