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Dr. Michael Carrasco Receives NEH Collaborative Grant for Research on Mesoamerican Writing

Published September 3, 2020

Associate Professor Michael D. Carrasco and colleague Joshua D. Englehardt (FSU PhD 2011, El Colegio de Michoacán) have received a $249,850 collaborative research grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities. Since 2012 Carrasco and Englehardt have directed the Mesoamerican Corpus of Formative Period Art and Writing project. This current funding will allow them to expand the documentation of Formative Period sculpture and inscriptions and establish a digital repository for this material, as well as complete the book The Origins of Writing in Early Mesoamerica

Working with an international, multidisciplinary team of scholars, Carrasco and Englehardt will explore the critical time of innovation ca. 1500–300 BCE, when Mesoamerican peoples developed a number of writing systems from a sophisticated iconography. They will also examine the continuous dialogue between this ancestral artistic system and later scripts, such as those of the Maya and Zapotec cultures, as well as how writing influenced Mesoamerican visual culture.

Carrasco writes: 

Building on a range of theoretical models, new discoveries, and recent field research, this book project elucidates the transition from a shared foundational iconography to phonetic writing. The aim is to craft a robust understanding of the emergence of writing and contextualize it in the rich visual culture of Mesoamerica, thereby contributing to a better theoretical conception of the origins and role of writing in early civilizations.

Photogrammetric model of a Late Formative period sculpture known as the ‘Tenaspi Egg,” found at a site in Catemaco, Veracruz, Mexico. Now located in the Museo de Antropología de Xalapa.