Leonardo López Luján

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Leonardo López Luján
BornMarch 31, 1964
Mexico City
Alma materEscuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia,
Université de Paris X
Known forExcavations in Teotihuacan and Tenochtitlan. Studies on the origins of Mesoamerican archaeology
AwardsFellow, British Academy,
Guggenheim Fellowship,
Shanghai Archaeology Forum Award
Scientific career
InstitutionsMexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History
Academic advisorsEduardo Matos Moctezuma, Michel Graulich

Leonardo Náuhmitl López Luján (born in Mexico City, 31 March 1964) is an archaeologist and one of the leading researchers of pre-Hispanic Central Mexican societies and the history of archaeology in Mexico. He is director of the Templo Mayor Project in Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) since 1991 and son of renowned historian Alfredo López Austin.[1]

Education and professional life[edit]

López Luján received his bachelor's degree in archaeology from Mexico’s National School of Anthropology and History (ENAH), which he attended from 1983 to 1987 as a student of Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, who directed his thesis on the Offerings of the Templo Mayor of Tenochtitlan (1990). In 1992 he pursued doctoral studies at the Paris West University Nanterre La Défense as a student of Jean-Claude Gardin, Michel Graulich, and Alain Schnapp. His dissertation, “Anthropologie religieuse du Templo Mayor, Mexico: La Maison des Aigles” (The Religious Anthropology of the Templo Mayor, Mexico: The House of Eagles), presented in 1998 under the direction of Pierre Becquelin, obtained the highest honors.[1][2]

During his academic career he has been a visiting research fellow at Princeton University (1995), the Musée de l’Homme in Paris (2002), Harvard University's Dumbarton Oaks (2006), and the Institut d'Études Avancées from Paris (2013-2014),[3] and a visiting professor at the University of Paris I Panthéon-Sorbonne (2000), the University of Rome–La Sapienza (2004 and 2016), the École Pratique des Hautes Études in Paris (2011), and Francisco Marroquín University in Guatemala (2011).[2]

In INAH, he has been a full-time research professor at the Templo Mayor Museum since 1988 and part-time teaching professor at the National School of Conservation, Restoration, and Museography (ENCRYM) since 2000.[2]

He was president of the Mexican Society of Anthropology from 2003 to 2005 and has been a member of the administration council of the Société des Américanistes since 1999. He is currently a Level III Researcher in Mexico's National System of Researchers (SNI) and member of the Mexican Academy of Sciences,[4] and the Mexican Academy of History.[2]

In 2013 López Luján was elected as a corresponding Fellow of the British Academy (FBA) and as an Honorary Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London (Hon FSA), recognizing his contributions to the field of Mesoamerican research.[5][6]

On November 5, 2018, he was elected new member of El Colegio Nacional (The National College), a Mexican honorary academy that brings together the forty country's foremost artists and scientists.[7]

Research, fieldwork and museum exhibitions[edit]

His research has focused primarily on the religion, politics, and art of pre-Hispanic societies in Central Mexico. His scholarship has contributed to our knowledge of indigenous strategies of recovering the distant past, the coded language of buried offerings, the functions and symbolism of sacred architecture, the uses and meanings of Mexica sculpture, the application of materials science to the study of pre-Hispanic art and artifacts, iconoclastic activities in times of crisis, mother goddess cults, and sacrificial practices, among other areas. He has also ventured into the history of Mexican archaeology, achieving significant advances in the study of its origins in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

López Luján began working in archeological, anthropological, and historical projects when he was eight years old. He has participated in various scientific teams in the Mexican federal entities of Campeche, Chiapas, Distrito Federal, Guanajuato, Estado de México, Morelos, and Quintana Roo, and in Ecuador.[1]

The year 1980 was especially significant in his career, for he began working at INAH’s Templo Mayor Project in the first (1978–1982) and second (1987) seasons of excavations in Tenochtitlan’s sacred precinct under the direction of Eduardo Matos Moctezuma. Eleven years later, in 1991, he became the director of the project and currently occupies this position. In this way, he has led the fourth (1991–1992), fifth (1994–1997), sixth (2004–2006), seventh (2007–2014), eighth (2014–2018), and ninth (2018- ) archaeological field seasons.[1][2]

As part of his research at the archaeological site of Teotihuacan, he co-directed with William L. Fash and Linda Manzanilla the Xalla Palace excavation project and also worked with Saburo Sugiyama and Rubén Cabrera on the Pyramid of the Moon Project.[1][2]

His own projects have been funded by INAH, the University of Colorado at Boulder, the University of Texas at Austin, Princeton University, and Harvard University.[2]

With renowned colleagues he has curated major exhibitions, including "The Aztec World" at the Field Museum in Chicago,[8] "Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler" at the British Museum in London,[9] "El capitán Dupaix y su álbum arqueológico de 1794" (Captain Dupaix and his 1794 archaeological album) at the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City,[10] as well as "Camino al Mictlan" (The Way to the Land of the Dead), "La Casa de las Águilas" (The House of Eagles), "Sacrificios de consagración en la Pirámide de la Luna" (Consecration Sacrifices at the Pyramid of the Moon), "Humo aromático para los dioses" (Aromatic Smoke for the Gods), and "Nuestra sangre, nuestro color: la escultura polícroma de Tenochtitlan (Our Blood, Our Color: Tenochtitlan's polychromed sculpture) at the Templo Mayor Museum.[1][2]

Awards and Fellowships[edit]

Published works[edit]

Books (author)[edit]

Books, catalogs, and journals (editor)[edit]

  • Atlas histórico de Mesoamérica, with Linda Manzanilla, 1989.
  • Historia antigua de México, 4 vols., with Linda Manzanilla, 1994–1995, 2000–2001, 2014.
  • Camino al Mictlan, with Vida Mercado, 1997.
  • La Casa de las Águilas: reconstrucción de un pasado, with Luis Barba, 2000.
  • Gli Aztechi tra passato e presente, with Alessandro Lupo and Luisa Migliorati, 2006.
  • Sacrificios de consagración en la Pirámide de la Luna, with Saburo Sugiyama, 2006.
  • Arqueología e historia del Centro de México. Homenaje a Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, with Davíd Carrasco and Lourdes Cué, 2006.
  • Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler, with Colin McEwan, 2009, 2010.
  • The Art of Urbanism: How Mesoamerican Kingdoms Represented Themselves in Architecture and Imagery, with William L. Fash, 2009, 2012.
  • El sacrificio humano en la tradición religiosa mesoamericana, with Guilhem Olivier, 2010.
  • Humo aromático para los dioses: una ofrenda de sahumadores al pie del Templo Mayor de Tenochtitlan, 2012, 2014.
  • El oro en Mesoamérica, special issue of Arqueología Mexicana, 2017.
  • Nuestra sangre, nuestro color: la escultura polícroma de Tenochtitlan, 2017.


  1. ^ a b c d e f "Miembros de la Academia · Sillón No. 27". Archived from the original on 2011-09-09. Retrieved 2010-12-27.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i "Archived copy" (PDF). Archived from the original (PDF) on 2013-09-09. Retrieved 2012-06-09.CS1 maint: Archived copy as title (link)
  3. ^ "Institut d'études avancées de Paris". Paris-iea.fr. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  4. ^ "Academia Mexicana de Ciencias". Amc.unam.mx. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  5. ^ "Dr Leonardo López Luján FBA". Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  6. ^ "About the Fellowship". Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  7. ^ "El Colegio Nacional". 2018-11-06. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  8. ^ "The Aztec World | Exhibition Curators". Archive.fieldmuseum.org. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  9. ^ "Lectures talks and debates". British Museum. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  10. ^ Exhiben álbum de Dupaix, testimonio de los orígenes de la arqueología mexicana
  11. ^ "Guggenheim Fellow". Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  12. ^ "Awakening the Stones: The Beginnings of Pre-Columbian Archaeological Studies in Central Mexico — Dumbarton Oaks". Doaks.org. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  13. ^ College Art Association. "CAA News | College Art Association » Blog Archive » Leonardo López Luján Is Convocation Speaker | CAA". Collegeart.org. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  14. ^ "Leonardo López Luján - Institut d'études avancées de Paris". Paris-iea.fr. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  15. ^ "La Jornada: Leonardo López Luján gana el Premio Shanghai Archaeology Forum 2015". Jornada.unam.mx. 2015-11-11. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  16. ^ "El arqueólogo Leonardo López Luján ingresa a El Colegio Nacional". INAH. 2018-11-07. Retrieved 2018-12-20.
  17. ^ Nguyen, Ivy (2010-05-21). "Dig into Mexico's history draws Stanford crowd". Stanford Daily. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  18. ^ "Bakwin Lecture | Wellesley College - Wellesley College". New.wellesley.edu. 2012-04-04. Archived from the original on 2012-12-15. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  19. ^ "Sackler Lecture". 2018-02-01. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  20. ^ "Mexicolore". Mexicolore. 2010-01-10. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  21. ^ "musée du quai Branly: conférences". Quaibranly.fr. Retrieved 2012-11-07.
  22. ^ [1][dead link]
  23. ^ "Schedule - A Celebration of Mexico | Library of Congress". Loc.gov. Retrieved 2018-11-20.
  24. ^ "Ministerio de Cultura brindará conferencia sobre los descubrimientos arqueológicos más espectaculares en la antigua capital Azteca | Ministerio de Cultura". Cultura.gob.pe (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-11-20.


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