The ancient New World, one of the illustrious cradles of human civilization, is featured at The Mint Museum. This wide-ranging collection showcases more than 2,500 artworks from the ancient Americas. The museum’s collection, the majority having been donated by Dr. and Mrs. Francis Robicsek, is one of the largest in the United States, spanning 4,300 years of artistic creativity from 2800 BCE to 1500 CE, and presenting more than forty of the major societies from ancient Mesoamerica (Mexico, Guatemala, Belize, Honduras, and El Salvador), Central America (Nicaragua, Costa Rica, and Panama), and Andean South America (Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, Bolivia, and Chile).(All of these images can be viewed larger by right-clicking on them to read their descriptors.)
Some of the pieces fell right in line with the gruesome human sacrifice stories you've heard about. (Only click on this image to read the descriptor if you're okay with being grossed out.)
"Throughout ancient Central America, women are rendered in their role as creators and nurturers of children, as well as holding principal ritual positions in social and religious institutions."
Best of all, it was obvious they had a sense of humor - as demonstrated by this Mayan incense burner from Guatemala in 600-900A.D.
All said, except for the sacrifices, they didn't seem all that different from us, and they were most certainly lovers of art and beauty... beauty that can still influence our art today!
I hope you can make it to The Mint Museum (Randolph) to see the exhibit in person, as there are about 2,490 more pieces to see. It's really remarkable!