Accessibility Tools

Birds and Beasts of Ancient Mesoamerica

Animal Symbolism in the Postclassic Period

edited by Susan Milbrath and Elizabeth Baquedano

Hardcover Price $113.00
Ebook Price $91.00
30-day ebook rental price $45.50

Buy Now

"A refreshing update that fills a gap in our current understanding of animal imagery and symbolism in the last centuries before the Spanish conquest.”
Virginia E. Miller, University of Illinois Chicago 


Birds and Beasts of Ancient Mesoamerica links Precolumbian animal imagery with scientific data related to animal morphology and behavior, providing in-depth studies of the symbolic importance of animals and birds in Postclassic period Mesoamerica. 

Representations of animal deities in Mesoamerica can be traced back at least to Middle Preclassic Olmec murals, stone carvings, and portable art such as lapidary work and ceramics. Throughout the history of Mesoamerica real animals were merged with fantastical creatures, creating zoological oddities not unlike medieval European bestiaries. According to Spanish chroniclers, the Aztec emperor was known to keep exotic animals in royal aviaries and zoos. The Postclassic period was characterized by an iconography that was shared from central Mexico to the Yucatan peninsula and south to Belize. In addition to highlighting the symbolic importance of nonhuman creatures in general, the volume focuses on the importance of the calendrical and astronomical symbolism associated with animals and birds.

Contributors: Elizabeth Aguilera, Elizabeth Hill Boone, Allen Christenson, Jeanne L. Gillespie, Keith Jordan, Cecelia F. Klein, Cynthia Kristan-Graham, Leonardo López Luján, Elena Mazzetto, Israel Elizalde Mendez, Alejandra Aguirre Molina, Merideth Paxton, Jeanette Peterson, Emily Umberger, Gabrielle Vail

The Archaeology Show

Susan Milbrath is affiliate faculty of the School of Art and Art History at the University of Florida and emeritus curator of Latin American art and archaeology at the Florida Museum of Natural History. She is the author of Star Gods of the Maya and Heaven and Earth in Ancient Mexico

Elizabeth Baquedano is a Mesoamerican scholar and senior lecturer and coordinator of Aztec Archaeology and Ethnohistory, as well as Coordinator of Comparative Archaeologies of the Americas, at the University College London, Institute of Archaeology. She has published four books (including Tezcatlipoca: Trickster and Supreme Deity and Birds and Beasts of Ancient Mesoamerica) and authored several book chapters and journal articles. In 2014, she received the Mexican government’s prestigious Ohtli Award, bestowed upon distinguished Mexicans working outside Mexico whose efforts have contributed significantly to enhancing Mexico, particularly the art and archaeology of ancient Mexico. She was elected Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries, London, in 2021.

University Press of Colorado Logo


  • Hardcover Price: $113.00
  • Hardcover ISBN: 978-1-64642-460-3
  • Ebook Price: $91.00
  • 30-day ebook rental price: $45.50
  • EISBN: 978-1-64642-461-0
  • Publication Month: December
  • Publication Year: 2023
  • Pages: 440
  • Illustrations: 154
  • Discount Type: Short
  • Author: edited by Susan Milbrath and Elizabeth Baquedano
  • ECommerce Code: 978-1-64642-460-3
  • Get Permissions: Get Permission

Related Titles

Browse Related Titles Tagged Under:

University Press of Colorado University of Alaska Press Utah State University Press University of Wyoming Press