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Burning Water: Thought and Religion in Ancient Mexico





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About the book:

Laurette Séjourné (1911 - 2003) was a Mexican archeologist and ethnologist best known for her study of the civilizations of Teotihuacan and the Aztecs and her theories concerning the Mesoamerican culture hero, Quetzalcoatl. Born in Italy, she emigrated to France and then left occupied France in exile for Mexico, in 1941. There, she became a naturalized Mexican citizen and married another exile, the Russian novelist and revolutionary known as Victor Serge (d.1947). Soon after his death, she joined the Mexican Communist Party. Later, she remarried Arnaldo Orfila, director of the Fondo de Cultura Económica and founder of Siglo XXI Editores. During the 1950s, Séjourné worked for Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). She did anthropological fieldwork in Oaxaca, but then changed to the field of archaeology, excavating at the pre-Spanish metropolis of Teotihuacan, which she believed was the legendary Tollan. She published several beautifully illustrated books on the art and architecture of Teotihuacan. To a wider public she became known through her 1957 publication on the cosmology and religion of the Toltecs and Aztecs, translated into English as "Burning Water: Thought and Religion in Ancient Mexico", this book. The book's main focus is the figure of Tollan's priestly king, Quetzalcoatl, and his teachings. Laurette Séjourné's final years were dedicated to bringing education to the Indian peoples of the south of Mexico. Her work is still valued by specialists.

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