Marc Levine, PhD

  • POSITIONAssistant Curator of Mesoamerican Archaeology
  • EXPERTISE Mesoamerican archaeology
  • PhD

    University of Colorado at Boulder

  • PHONE NUMBER303.370.8239
  • EMAIL[email protected]
  • RESUME Click to download
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Dr. Marc Levine's research investigates the rich Prehispanic past of Mesoamerica through the archaeological record. He is interested in better understanding the web of social, political, and economic relations within and between the constellation of city-states in Central and Southern Mexico in the period just before the Spanish Conquest (AD 1521).



Collecting Teotihuacan Project

Teotihuacan was the largest Precolumbian metropolis of the New World, flourishing between 100 BC and AD 600. Located northeast of Mexico City, Teotihuacan was once home to a multiethnic population of more than 100,000 people. Temples, plazas, palaces, and two of the world's largest pyramids rose from the urban center.

"Some might refer to Teotihuacan as the Rome of the New World," said Dr. Marc Levine of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

Dr. Levine is conducting a project that examines collections of Teotihuacan artifacts in museums across the United States. The Collecting Teotihuacan Project began with an assessment of artifacts from the ancient Mexican city included in the Crane American Indian Collection at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

"We're always looking for opportunities to carry out research on our collections at the Museum," Dr. Levine said, "and this was an opportunity to do that."

But the study goes beyond examining in-house artifacts. Dr. Levine also evaluates the history and distribution of Teotihuacan artifacts in other museums and in the art market. More than 50 U.S. museums have participated in a survey conducted by Dr. Levine, and a study of Precolumbian artifacts auctioned at Sotheby's over the past 75 years provides additional information regarding the demand for Teotihuacan-style artifacts on the private art market.

"One of the goals is to place our collection in a broader context," Dr. Levine said.

According to Dr. Levine, many museum collections-including the Crane Collection-reflect fluctuations and changing tastes of the art market. Items such as stone masks and ceramics from Teotihuacan are popular among private collectors and also have a strong presence in museum collections. This is because many archaeological objects are donated to museums by private collectors.
"We wish to better understand the collection at the Denver Museum of Nature & Science and disseminate relevant information about this collection to the wider scientific community," Dr. Levine said.

The Collecting Teotihuacan Project will also serve as a case study for the larger issue of collecting Precolumbian antiquities. The demand for these artifacts has led to the highly unfortunate looting and destruction of archaeological sites throughout Latin America.

"A better understanding of the nature of this market over the last 75 years may put us in a better position to combat illicit trade in the future," Dr. Levine said.

Tututepec Archaeology Project (TAP)

On the eve of the Spanish Conquest in the early 16th century, Tututepec was one of the most powerful capitals in all of Mesoamerica. Yet we know relatively little about the ancient Mixtecs (people indigenous to southern Mexico) of Tututepec, said Dr. Marc Levine of the Denver Museum of Nature & Science.

"Mexico's diverse past has been swept under the rug," Dr. Levine said, noting the dominance of Aztec history in Mesoamerican studies. "Its real history is actually much more diverse and interesting than that."

The goal of the Tututepec Archaeological Project (TAP) is to shed light on the history of the most powerful Mixtec kingdom of all time, which comprises an important chapter in the ancient history of Mexico.

Dr. Levine is currently examining how interregional trade between Tututepec and other areas might have been key to the capital's economic success. Located on the Pacific coast of Oaxaca, the people of Tututepec had access to a variety of tropical resources-including cotton, salt, feathers, and cacao. Excavations in 2005 suggest that this broad availability of resources created an unlikely relationship between commoners and the ruling class.

"Common people had access to a measure of wealth that we hadn't anticipated," Dr. Levine said. "Our finds are challenging the rhetoric of total elite dominance over a passive common populace."

Future research at Tututepec will include an archaeological surface survey of the capital that will identify and map archaeological materials above ground to evaluate the distribution of households and the presence of discrete neighborhoods; spatial relationships between public and domestic architecture; and the location of craft production areas throughout the capital.

Today an estimated 400,000 Mixtecs, who refer to themselves in their native language as Ñuu Dzahui, comprise the third largest indigenous group in Mexico. The modern town of Tututepec has expressed great interest in their colorful history, which is evident in their establishment of the Museo Yucusaa, their own community museum. Dr. Levine has worked with the Museo Yucusaa in the past and developed a poster with summaries of recent finds that now hangs in the museum.

"Part of my obligation to the community is to share the results of my fieldwork and what I've learned about Tututepec's past," Dr. Levine said.


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