Universiteit Leiden

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Maarten Jansen

Professor emeritus of Mesoamerican Archeology and History

Prof.dr. M.E.R.G.N. Jansen
+31 71 527 2439

Research projects:

  • Mixtec City States
  • Ceramics and Social Change
  • Mixtec Language and Culture
  • Keeping the Days: Time and Identity in Mesoamerica

Maarten Jansen is full professor of ‘Heritage of Indigenous Peoples (with focus on the Americas)’, specialized in the visual art, history and living culture of Mesoamerica. He is head of the department Archaeological Heritage and participates in the Research MA & PhD tracks ‘Archaeological Heritage in a Globalising World’ and ‘Religion and Society (in Native American Cultures)’.
He was born in Zeist, The Netherlands, in 1952. After obtaining a B.A. degree in Classical Languages and Archaeology at Leiden University (1973), he followed classes at Vienna University (Institut für Völkerkunde) and completed the M.A. specialization Archaeology of Pre-Columbian America with minors in Nahuatl and Quechua (Leiden 1976). Continuing his archaeological and historical research in combination with anthropological fieldwork in Mexico, he wrote his Ph.D. dissertation on the ancient pictorial manuscript known as Codex Vindobonensis Mexicanus 1 (Leiden, 1983, cum laude). 

Teaching at Leiden University since 1980, he founded there the successful specialization in the archaeology and culture history of the Americas. His own work focuses on diverse aspects of Mesoamerican cultural heritage in past and present, including iconography, history, and ethno-archaeology, and involves research among the Mixtec people (Ñuu Dzaui) in Southern Mexico. Together with Dr. Ferdinand Anders (University of Vienna), Mrs. Gabina Aurora Pérez Jiménez (investigator / teacher of Mixtec language and culture, Leiden University) and other colleagues, Jansen has produced a series of interpretive studies of religious and historical pictorial manuscripts from ancient Mexico. He obtained funding for a series of research projects from Leiden University (Faculties of Humanities and Archaeology, Center of Non-Western Studies, and the Profile Area ‘Global Interactions’) as well as from the Netherlands Foundation for Scientific Research (NWO, WOTRO). This has led to a series of PhD theses and postdoc studies under his supervision. 

Cooperation exists with the Centro Oaxaca of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia and the Centro de Investigaciones y Estudios Superiores en Antropología Social in Mexico, as well as with several institutions and experts in Europe and North America. 

Jansen has also a wide ranging experience in academic organisation: he served on many commissions, and on the Directive Board of the Faculty of Archaeology as Director of Education  (2000-2003) and as Dean (2003-2006). 

In 1994 the Mexican government awarded him the commandership in the Order of the Aztec Eagle. In 2002 he received a special appointment from the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences (KNAW). In 2009 the State Government of Oaxaca, Mexico, awarded him the Medal of Merit ‘Andres Henestrosa’. 

In 2012 Jansen received an Advanced Grant from the European Research Council for a large research project focusing on the religious meaning and social function of the Mesoamerican calendar.

Professor emeritus of Mesoamerican Archeology and History

  • Faculteit Archeologie
  • Archaeological Heritage
  • Heritage of Indigenous Peoples

Work address

Van Steenis
Einsteinweg 2
2333 CC Leiden


No relevant ancillary activities

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