Read our COVID-19 safety guidelines.

Symposium: "Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico" *PODCAST AVAILABLE

This event is expired.

SOLD OUT - Listen to the podcast of these lectures for free!

A series of speakers reveal new discoveries about the Olmec civilization.

February 19, 2011

Morning session: 10:00–11:45 a.m.

Welcome and Introduction
Kathleen Berrin, Curator in Charge, Africa, Oceania, and Americas, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

Among Jaguars and Serpents: Olmec Art and Iconography
Sara Ladrón de Guevara, Director, Museum of Anthropology, Xalapa, Mexico

The Real Dirt on San Lorenzo
Ann Cyphers, Archaeologist, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México

Afternoon session: 1:30–4:00 p.m.

Mounds, Monuments, and Misadventures at Tres Zapotes
Christopher A. Pool, Archaeologist, University of Kentucky

The Ecstasy and the Agony: The La Venta Excavations
Susan D. Gillespie, Archaeologist, University of Florida

Forty Years of Archaeology on the Olmec Frontier
David C. Grove, Archaeologist, University of Florida

During the break enjoy welcome dances by traditional California Pomo dancers and Daza Xitlalli from noon to 1:00 p.m. outside on the de Young front lawn. Please note the dances will be cancelled in the case of rain.

Kathleen Berrin is curator in charge of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas at the Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco. Berrin has organized several exhibitions focusing on pre-Hispanic art, including the groundbreaking conservation and exhibition of the Harald Wagner Collection of Teotihuacan Murals and Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya. Her published works include Feathered Serpents and Flowering Trees: Reconstructing the Murals of Teotihuacan and Teotihuacan: Art from the City of the Gods (with Esther Pasztory).

Ann Cyphers is director of the San Lorenzo Tenochtitlán Archaeological Project, senior research scientist at the Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, and a research associate in the department of anthropology at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She specializes in Formative-period archaeology of Mesoamerica, particularly that of the Central Mexican Highlands and Gulf Coast regions. She has performed fieldwork in the midwestern United States as well as in the Mexican states of Morelos and Veracruz.

Susan D. Gillespie is Associate Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida. She has published on Aztec, Maya, and Olmec topics, most notably the Aztec kings. She also directed excavations at Formative-period sites in Oaxaca and Veracruz, including the Olmec sculpture workshop at Llano del Jícaro near Laguna de los Cerros. In 2007 she initiated a project to use computer-assisted drawings to reconstruct the history and architecture of La Venta Complex A, based on the original 1955 field records.

David C. Grove is Courtesy Professor of Anthropology at the University of Florida and Professor Emeritus of Anthropology and Jubilee Professor of Liberal arts and Sciences at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Grove’s primary research interest is the Mesoamerican Early and Middle Formative/Preclassic periods. He is best known for his fieldwork at Chalcatzingo, Morales, and the cave at Oxtotitlan, Guerrero. His published works include Regional Perspectives on the Olmec (edited with Robert J. Sharer) and San Pablo, Nexpa, and the Early Formative Archaeology of Morelos, Mexico.

Sara Ladrón de Guevara is director of the Museo de Antropología de Xalapa, Universidad Veracruzana. Ladrón de Guevara has taught at the Universidad Veracruzana and the Universidad de Guadalajara and has been a visiting professor at Smith College and the Sorbonne. She has participated in numerous archaeological projects in both Mexico and Europe, with a special emphasis on the iconography and symbolism of Mesoamerica. She has published more than sixty texts, among them Imagen y pensamiento en El Tajín and Diseños precolombinos de Veracruz.

Christopher A. Pool is professor of anthropology at the University of Kentucky, where his research focuses on complex societies in the tropical lowlands of southern Veracruz, including the Olmec and their successors. He has investigated the archaeological sites of Matacapan and Bezuapan, and since 1995 he has directed excavations at Tres Zapotes. His publications include Classical Period Cultural Currents in Southern and Central Veracruz (edited with Philip M. Arnold III); Debating with Robert: Papers on Mesoamerican Archaeology in Memory of Roberts S. Santley (edited with Patricia McAnany); Settlement Archaeology and Political Economy at Tres Zapotes, Veracruz, Mexico; and Olmec Archaeology and Early Mesoamerica.

Ticket Information


Please note: Admission to the symposium does not include admission to the de Young Museum or to the special exhibition Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico, nor is museum admission required to attend the lecture.

Order tickets online

Contact Information

Andrea Martin