Cerámica de los Ancestros: Central America’s Past Revealed

March 29, 2013–February 15, 2015
Washington, DC

This bilingual (English/Spanish) exhibition illuminates Central America’s diverse and dynamic ancestral heritage with a selection of more than 160 objects. For thousands of years, Central America has been home to vibrant civilizations, each with unique, sophisticated ways of life, value systems, and arts. The ceramics these peoples left behind, combined with recent archaeological discoveries, help tell the stories of these dynamic cultures and their achievements. Cerámica de los Ancestros examines seven regions representing distinct Central American cultural areas that are today part of Belize, Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador, Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama. Spanning the period from 1000 BC to the present, the ceramics featured, selected from the museum’s collection of more than 12,000 pieces from the region, are augmented with significant examples of work in gold, jade, shell, and stone. These objects illustrate the richness, complexity, and dynamic qualities of the Central American civilizations that were connected to peoples in South America, Mesoamerica, and the Caribbean through social and trade networks sharing knowledge, technology, artworks, and systems of status and political organization. This exhibition is a collaboration of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of the American Indian and the Smithsonian Latino Center.

Greater Nicoya female figure-vessel, AD 800-1200. Linea Vieja area, Costa Rica. Pottery, clay slip, paint. Photo by Ernest Amoroso, NMAI. (22/8837)
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