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Aztec Sacred Scripture?
A Search for Their Sense of Reality

Aztec Sacred Scripture? A Search for Their Sense of Reality

The research project "Aztec Sacred Scripture? A Search for Their Sense of Reality" studies the pre-Hispanic Aztecs, who lived in Central Mexico in the 13th through 16th centuries. The project examines how the religious cosmovision of the Aztecs informed and shaped their pictorial writing system. On a more abstract level, it searches for an interpretation of the Aztec cultural sense of reality through an analysis of their semiotic concepts.

Generally, the project analyzes principal elements of Aztec culture and religion from the perspectives of the academic study of religion and Mesoamerican studies, drawing on concepts from the aesthetics of religion, visual culture studies, material culture, anthropology, and ritual studies. Inspired by (Latin American) postcolonial approaches, the project set out to reflect potential Eurocentric biases in previous representations of Aztec culture and religion, focusing particularly on the concept of 'sacred scripture,' and searches for alternative interpretations.

The project was part of a Marie Curie International Outgoing Fellowship held by the researcher Dr. Isabel Laack in the years 2012-2015, funded by the European Research Council under the Seventh Research Framework Programme of the European Union with the project name "Pictorial History in Mesoamerican Religions".

Home institution of the project was the Institut für Religionswissenschaft at Heidelberg University with the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University as cooperation partner. Prof. Dr. Gregor Ahn (Heidelberg University) functioned as official project coordinator and Prof. Dr. Davíd Carrasco (Harvard Divinity School) as outgoing host at Harvard University.

Keywords:

Pre-Hispanic Mesoamerica, Aztecs, Aztec Religion, Nahuas, Nahua Religion, cosmovision, study of religion, history of religions, pictorial writing, pictography writing theory, semiotics, orality-literacy-debate, aesthetics of religion, material religion, visual religion, art history, visual culture studies, social text practice, material text practices, sacred scripture, holy books, ritual studies, postcolonial theory.