Prof. Dr. Araceli Rojas Martinez Gracida

Internationales Kolleg für Geisteswissenschaftliche Forschung "Schicksal, Freiheit und Prognose. Bewältigungsstrategien in Ostasien und Europa"
Hartmannstr. 14
91052 Erlangen




Home Institution: Faculty of Archaeology, Leiden University


IKGF Visiting Fellow October 2017 – March 2018

IKGF Research Project:

A Comparative Analysis of Concepts of Fate and Divinatory Signs between Mesoamerica, China, and Europe


Curriculum Vitae

Araceli Rojas Martínez Gracida studied Archaeology and Anthropology in Mexico. For her undergraduate research she examined the pictography on polychrome ceramics of the 13th and 14th centuries from Central Mexico whose motifs are similar to those found in calendrical, ritual and divinatory codices of pre-colonial times. Afterwards, she worked as an archaeologist in the southern province of Oaxaca, Mexico. This is where some of the codices originate, and where the worldview and ritual practices of indigenous peoples show a strong cultural continuity. In 2016 Araceli obtained a position on the project 'Keeping the Days: Time and Identity in Middle America', hosted by Leiden University, the Netherlands. For this project she carried out ethnographic research in a small indigenous community of Oaxaca where a calendar of 260 days, the basic and sacred time unit in Mesoamerican precolonial cultures, is still in use. She documented this calendar along with its social context, rituals and associated worldview symbolisms. One of the most interesting revelations from this research was the strong bond between this ancient form of reckoning time and divination; in this case with the technique of casting and reading maize seeds. The outcome of this investigation drove her to suggest that maize divination, besides being a therapeutic tool to help gain consciousness of oneself, results in images that can be read in a similar way to pre-colonial codices. From 2011 to 2017 Araceli worked as lecturer and Assistant Professor in the faculty of Archaeology at Leiden University.