The Art of Noise at Teotihuacan: The Conch Shell Motif in the Classic Period

Author(s): Megan Leight

Year: 2015


Teotihuacan was a major cosmopolitan city located in the Basin of Mexico during the Classic Period (100-700 CE). The artwork has long fascinated but bewildered scholars, and despite the emulation of Teotihuacan’s recognizable artistic styles across Mesoamerica, we still understand relatively little about their artistic styles today. This paper aims to examine the conch shell motif from artwork at Teotihuacan, particularly visible in extant mural paintings. It will focus on investigating the appearance of conch shells, conches used as trumpet devices, and cache burials of carved conches. Many scholars have proposed the conch is most related to noise, the wind, and the underworld. In particular, scholars link Teotihuacan’s Quetzalcoatl using a conch shell as a sounding device to best Mictlantecuhtli in the underworld and the American Southwest’s Zuni culture’s feathered serpent named Kolowiki, which was summoned by the conch shell trumpet. In these cases, there are strong ties to the underworld and emergence myths. In order to better understand these historically proposed relationships, this study will explore the conch shell as an isolated theme in Teotihuacan art.

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Cite this Record

The Art of Noise at Teotihuacan: The Conch Shell Motif in the Classic Period. Megan Leight. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 398394)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections


Art Motif Teotihuacan

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;