Jerome A. Offner, Ph.D.

Associate Curator, Northern Mesoamerica

A leading expert on the Aztecs of Mexico, their history, religion, economics, culture and communication system, including their writing system, Jerome A. (Jerry) Offner “wrote the book” on the Aztec legal system.

Dr. Offner began working as a volunteer with the museum in 1984. As associate curator of northern Mesoamerica, Offner contributes to the exhibits in the John P. McGovern Hall of the Americas, and has curated numerous special exhibitions.

Reflecting on their importance, Offner shares that “museums are essential in providing hands-on experience and interaction with actual objects in our increasingly virtual, digital world. They anchor us to what is real and at the same time provide inspiration for childhood intellectual development as well as lifelong learning.”

Dr. Offner specializes in rare manuscripts, or codices, created by Nahuatl-speaking Aztecs before and after the Conquest of 1519 AD. He leads an international team in the investigation of the greatest of the Aztec pictorial histories – the Codex Xolotl from the city of Texcoco, which is kept in the Bibliothèque Nationale de France in Paris.

Illustrated in considerable detail on pages of native paper, more than 260 years of history before 1431 AD are documented in Codex Xolotl. The paintings record migrations, invasions, wars, marriages, births and lives in the histories of the many different peoples who came to be known as the Aztecs in what is now the central part of Mexico. including the remarkable life of Nezahualcoyotl who ruled that city 1431-1472 AD.

Dr. Offner is author of the Howard F. Cline Memorial Prize-winning book Law and Politics in Aztec Texcoco. Supported in part by the Houston Museum of Natural Science and the National Science Centre of Poland, his latest co-edited book is Indigenous Graphic Communication Systems: A Theoretical Approach. His important research has been published in numerous other books and scholarly articles.

Dr. Offner reads, writes or speaks English, Spanish, French, Latin, ancient Greek and classical Nahuatl, the language of the Nahua (Aztecs) of Mexico. He is also an expert in contemporary masks and textiles of Mexico, with additional interests in Africa and the ancient Mediterranean.

A graduate of the University of Chicago, Jerry Offner earned his master’s degree and Ph.D. from Yale University. He has been awarded grants by the National Science Foundation, Doherty Foundation and Fulbright program.

Click here for list of publications and more information.

Exhibit Halls

John P. McGoven Hall of the Americas


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