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11 March 2020The Splendour of Ancient Mexico and Peru
13 November 2019The Newlyn School of Painting
13 March 2019A Guided Tour of Exeter’s Gothic Cathedral & its Library
14 November 2018The Sword & the Staff – the Pilgrim Route to Santiago de Compostela
14 March 2018St Ives and its Painters
15 November 2017Catherine the Great, Empress of All the Russias
15 March 2017The Story of Endsleigh House 1809-14 (morning). Followed by a visit to the house and grounds (afternoon).
09 November 2016The Glory That Was Greece. The Grandeur That Was Rome.
02 March 2016Looking after Antique Furniture
11 November 2015The Genius that is Michelangelo: a celebration of his life and works
11 March 2015The Pre-Raphaelites

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The Splendour of Ancient Mexico and Peru Chloe Sayer Wednesday 11 March 2020

Ancient burial grounds in Mexico and Peru have yielded up dazzling goldwork, fine ceramic vessels and some of the richest textiles in the world. Before the Spanish conquest of 1519, numerous civilizations rose and fell; the Olmecs, Maya and the warlike Aztec all forged their own unique and splendid styles on Mexican soils. In Peru the Incas were preceded by a succession of great cultures.

The civilisation of the ancient Maya reached its peak between AD 300 and 900. Dozens of great cities have been located, many still buried in remote parts of the jungle. Intricately carved stone panels, ceramic figurines and splendid mural paintings provide an insight into the religious rituals, music, warfare, textiles and courtly life of the ancient Maya.

The Aztecs flourished between 1325 and 1521, when they surrendered to invading Spanish forces. Tenochtitlan, the shimmering Aztec city, was built on a lake. This Venice of the New World, with a population of 250,000 inhabitants, lay at the heart of a vast empire. Military might was accompanied by exceptional developments in art and architecture.

In Peru, ancient burial grounds have yielded up dazzling goldwork, fine ceramic vessels, and some of the richest textiles in the world. The Incas rose to power after AD 1200 and established a vast empire. Yet they were the last in a long line of cultures. At Paracas, sumptuous garments were preserved for over 2,000 years by the dry desert. The royal tombs of Sipán hid spectacular gold and silver treasures from the civilisation of the Moche. Today the Quechua and the Aymara still weave magnificent textiles. This talk will be accompanied by a display of recent Peruvian weavings.

The price per person for the day is £25, plus optional buffet lunch, £7.

Booking fis now open for both members and the general public. For full information and to book, please click on Our Society tab, then Documents, or email:

Photo: Temple-pyramid at the Maya city of Uxmal on the Yucatan Peninsula (courtesy of Chloë Sayer)