The esteemed Mexican archaeologist Leonardo López Luján is set to be honoured as a Knight of the prestigious National Order of the Legion of Honor of France. This is the highest recognition that France provides to a foreign individual. The honor is a testament to the significant contributions López Luján has made in his field.
The investiture, directed by the French President, Emmanuel Macron, will take place in France, according to a report by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). The recognition aims to pay tribute to Leonardo López Luján’s extensive career as a researcher of the history of pre-Hispanic peoples in the Valley of Mexico.
Since the 1980s, López Luján has been a pillar of the INAH, contributing to archaeological projects across Mexico, including Chiapas, Quintana Roo, Morelos, Campeche, and the state of Mexico. He has also worked on projects in Guatemala and Peru, highlighting his international impact and recognition.
The passion for history and archaeology is a family affair for López Luján. He is the son of the distinguished anthropologist Alfredo López Austin and Martha Rosario Luján Pedrueza, who assisted several specialists in pre-Hispanic cultures. This familial legacy shows that the interest in social science has been deeply ingrained in his lineage.
Upon joining the INAH, López Luján worked under the esteemed archaeologist Eduardo Matos Moctezuma, becoming not just a student but a colleague. His research on the politics, religion, and art of pre-Hispanic societies in central Mexico has made him a significant contributor to the field.
López Luján’s contributions extend beyond his research. He has authored more than 20 books, some in collaboration with his father, covering various aspects of Mexica culture. He has also worked with Matos Moctezuma on several texts.
He has curated exhibitions such as Moctezuma: Aztec Ruler at the British Museum, London in 2009, and Our blood, our color: The polychrome sculpture of Tenochtitlan at the Templo Mayor Museum in 2017.
Currently, López Luján is the director of the INAH Templo Mayor Project. He is working on an exhibition called Mexica: Des dons et des dieux au Templo Mayor (Mexica: Offerings and gods of the Templo Mayor), which aims to demystify the customs of the people who settled in the Valley of Mexico.
The exhibition, set to run from April 3 to September 8, 2024, at the Quai Branly Jacques Chirac Museum in Paris, coincides with the Olympic Games in France.
Apart from his upcoming recognition in France, López Luján has been honoured as a corresponding member of the Academy of Inscriptions and Fine Letters in France. He has also received an honorary doctorate from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and is a correspondent for the Archaeological Institute of America, in the United States.
The formal ceremony to award Leonardo López Luján the National Order of the Legion of Honor will be presided over by the French ambassador to Mexico, Jean-Pierre Asvazadourian.