The Early Modern Inven­tion of the Ancient Andes

6. October 2022

The Institut für Kunst- und Bild­ge­schichte is very pleased to welcome the first Census x Hertziana Fellow, Juan Carlos Mantilla, who has begun a 6‑month rese­arch project titled, ‘The Early Modern Inven­tion of the Ancient Andes’.  During his fellow­ship, Mantilla will parti­ci­pate in both the Census in Berlin and the ‘Italy in a Global Context’ program under the direc­tion of Prof. Dr. Tristan Weddigen at the Biblio­theca Hertziana in Rome.

Mantilla is a Ph.D. candi­date at Columbia Univer­sity in the Depart­ment of Latin American and Iberian Cultures, the Insti­tute for Compa­ra­tive Lite­ra­ture and Society, and the Medieval and Renais­sance Studies Program. He specia­lizes in the compa­ra­tive art histo­rical and lite­rary studies of the Early Modern Period with a focus on the Indi­ge­nous Americas. His inter­di­sci­pli­nary rese­arch examines a broad corpus of printed and manu­script texts in Clas­sical, Indi­ge­nous, and Romance languages along­side Early Modern visual arts and Pre-Colum­bian archaeo­lo­gical mate­rial. Juan Carlos has received the support of fellow­ships from the Social Science Rese­arch Council, the Freie Univer­sität Berlin’s Graduate School of Lite­rary Studies, the Bard Graduate Center, The Center for Black, Brown, and Queer Studies, the Insti­tute for Compa­ra­tive Lite­ra­ture and Society, and the Insti­tute for Reli­gion, Culture and Public Life at Columbia Univer­sity. Addi­tio­nally, he has completed rese­arch assistan­ships at Stan­ford Univer­sity and Univer­sidad de Buenos Aires.

Please find a descrip­tion of his rese­arch project below.

The Early Modern Inven­tion of the Ancient Andes 

Juan Carlos Mantilla, PhD Candi­date, Columbia Univer­sity, New York

Manco Capac, was, accor­ding to a mythical narra­tive from Cuzco, a foun­ding ruler. With his brot­hers and sisters, called the Ayar, he emerged from the Cave of Paca­ri­tambo with the command of funding a polity to orga­nize the lawless terri­to­ries of the Andean high­lands. Manco Capac reap­pears in this seven­te­enth-century folio of the Italian Biblio­teca Ange­lica ms. 1551, imagined stan­ding as a roman statue, and termed “the first king of Perú.” In the Early Modern period, Manco Capac meta­mor­phosed from a funding figure of Paca­ri­tambo to an ancient king,

My rese­arch as part of the Census x Herz­tiana fellow­ship is an inter­di­sci­pli­nary explo­ra­tion of the Early Modern trans­at­lantic inven­tions of the Pre-Colum­bian past as part of global anti­quity. This project is centered in the Andean region of the Americas and studies the recep­tion of Pre-Colum­bian Andean ancient tradi­tions in the visual and written culture of the Early Modern era and its entan­gle­ments with Early Modern poli­tical, histo­rical, and theo­lo­gical theo­ries. Loca­ting this inte­rest in pre-Colum­bian cultures as part of a broader Early Modern trans­at­lantic scho­larly and artistic inte­rest in the ancient world, I explore the prac­tices of acqui­si­tion of know­ledge, theo­riza­tion, and imagi­ning of the pre-Colum­bian past, and their resul­ting myth­ma­king practices.

I argue that Pre-Colum­bian mate­rial culture and Indi­ge­nous history became a funda­mental element of Early Modern culture. Early Modern artists and scho­lars created inno­va­tive forms to explore, inter­pret, depict, and narrate the histo­ries of the Pre-Colum­bian past. In doing so, they simul­ta­neously created the visual tropes and histo­rio­gra­phical concepts through which the Pre-Colum­bian past is imagined until our days, such as the idea of the “Inca Kings” their “Fort­resses” and “Temples.”

My project studies a corpus of Pre-Colum­bian objects and narra­tives in dialogue with their recep­tion in the Early Modern arts and lite­ra­tures, and their role in crea­ting the idea of global anti­quity. It is also a syste­matic study of the rele­vance of Indi­ge­nous tradi­tions in Early Modern cultural history, and an in-depth explo­ra­tion of Early Modern visual sources depic­ting Andean anti­quity. My rese­arch high­lights the inse­pa­ra­bi­lity of Indi­ge­nous mate­rial culture and pre-Colum­bian histo­ries from Early Modern global art and cultural history.

Artist Unknown, Manco Capac, Rome, Biblio­teca Ange­lica ms. 1551, section 3, fol. 77