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Lectures and Talks

Recovering the History of the Fiery Tortoise Lord

In 1971, the Denver Art Museum acquired several stone fragments belonging to a Maya monument. When put together, the fragments revealed the profile of a portly man attired in the elaborate regalia of royalty with a singular headdress notable for its abundance of aquatic imagery. The absence of any inscriptions and the damage to the work initially impeded identification relegating this Maya ruler to oblivion.

However, recent fieldwork in the western region of Guatemala by Arthur Demarest and his team revealed a substantial port city at the headwaters of the Pasión River, the kingdom of Cancuen, whose power derived from its riverine surroundings. In this talk, follow along with Victoria Lyall, Jan and Frederick Mayer Curator of Art of the Ancient Americas, as we piece together the identity of our mysterious Maya king and reconstruct his role in the golden age of Cancuen.

This lecture is part of the Denver Art Museum's summer series,  "An Inside Look: A Series of Curator Talks."  Please visit for more information and to register for more lectures.

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