Caitlin Earley will be giving a Brown Bag Lunch presentation on Tuesday, February 21 at 12:15 pm. Her talk is entitled “In Enemy Hands: Captive Bodies in Ancient Mesoamerican Art.”


Caitlin Earley is an art historian specializing in Pre-Columbian art. She is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Art at the University of Nevada, Reno, and a Jane and Morgan Whitney Fellow at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (2016–2017). She earned her PhD from the University of Texas at Austin, where she studied Classic Maya sculpture from the Comitán Valley of Chiapas, Mexico. She maintains a wide array of research interests, publishing and presenting on the iconography of kingship, the Maya ballgame, and Preclassic artistic motifs. Her current project at the Metropolitan Museum of Art focuses on the depiction of captives in ancient Mesoamerica.

Across ancient Mesoamerica, carved stone monuments display bound captives, usually individuals captured in warfare. In the Maya area in particular, a review of captive imagery in the Late Classic period (c. 600–900 CE) indicates that captive bodies—and body parts—referred to complex ideas about honor and power. In this talk, Earley will examine the ability of the captive body to signify in ancient Maya and Mesoamerican art. Engaging with indigenous American beliefs about the partible and relational human body, this talk uses sculptures from the western Maya area and the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art to examine how the human body, both broken and whole, reflected and constructed ideas about power, sacrifice, and world order in ancient Mesoamerican art.