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Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Symposia and Colloquia
Making Value, Making Meaning
Techné in the Pre-Columbian World
Cathy Lynne Costin

Making Value, Making Meaning: Techné in the Pre-Columbian World adopts the concept of techné as an analytic tool useful for understanding how the production process created value and meaning for social valuables and public monuments in complex societies in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica and the Andes. In doing so, the archaeologists and art historians contributing to this volume add to the study of ancient artisans and craftsmanship through the exploration of how technology, the organization of production, artisan identity, and the deployment of esoteric knowledge factored into the creation of symbolically and politically charged material culture.

The wide-ranging case studies in this volume demonstrate that the concept of techné—thorough and masterful knowledge of a specific field deployed to create things with social utility—is a powerful one for understanding the political economy of craft production and the role of objects in social life and how their creation and use helps to generate their social, political, and spiritual power.