Archaeological Sites Background Bibliography

ARCHITECTURE


Andrews, George F. Pyramids & Palaces, Monsters & Masks: The Golden Age of Maya Architecture. The Collected Works of George F. Andrews. Labyrinthos Press. Lancaster, California 1997 (to be re-published November 1997).

In three volumes. Vol.1 covers the architecture of the Puuc and northern plains area. Vol. 2 deals with the Chenes style. Vol. 3 covers the Rio Bec style.

Gendrop, Paul. A Guide to Architecture in Ancient Mexico. Mexics. Mexico City, 1991.

Gendrop, Paul. Rio Bec, Chenes, & Puuc Styles in Maya Architecture. Labyrinthos Press. Lancaster, California 1998.

This work was originally published in Spanish as Los Estilos Rîo Bec, Chenes y Puuc in 1983. As George Andrews writes in the introduction, "...Paul's work still stands as the most comprehensive effort to date to reveal those cultural interactions that culminated in the development of the Chenes and later Puuc architectural styles (Colonnette, Mosaic, and Late Uxmal styles) from their beginnings in the Río Bec region."

Pollock, H.E.D. The Puuc: An Architectural Survey of the Hill Country of Yucatan & Northern Campeche, Mexico. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum 19. Cambridge, Massachusetts. Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology 1980.

Pollock's fieldwork was under the auspices of and supported by Carnegie Institution of Washington, and was begun in 1932 and largely completed by 1940. This volume comes with maps and over 934 illustrations, photographs and building diagrams, including oversized maps in a separate packet. Pollock's book includes sections on Labná, Sayil, Uxmal and Chacmultún, among others.

Potter, David F. Maya Architecture of the Central Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Middle American Research Institute 44. New Orleans. Tulane University 1977.

This monograph forms part of a series of final reports on the 1969-1971 National Geographic SocietyTulane University Program of Research in the Rio Bec area of Campeche, directed by E. Wyllys Andrews IV. Detailed coverage of Becan and Chicanna, with Xpuhil mentioned in the Appendix.

Proskouriakoff, Tatiana. An Album of Maya Architecture. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman and London 1963.

First edition published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1946. Thirty-six paintings representing brilliant "restorations" of Maya buildings, with accompanying description of archaeological findings and line drawings of existing remains.

Ruppert, Karl & John H. Denison, Jr. Archaeological Reconnaissance in Campeche, Quintana Roo, & Peten. Publication 543. Washington D.C. Carnegie Institution of Washington. 1943.

Presents the results of four expeditions sent into southern Campeche and northern Guatemala by the Division of Historical Research of Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1938. Comes with maps, illustrations, photographs and building diagrams, including oversized maps. Includes sections on Becan, Calakmul, and Xpujil, among others.

Schele, Linda Iconography of Maya Architectural Façades during the Late Classic Period. In Function & Meaning in Classic Maya Architecture: A symposium at Dunbarton Oaks, 7th and 8th October 1994, Stephen D. Houston, Editor. Dunbarton Oaks Electronic Texts, 1998.

Linda Schele's article, plus the entire contents of this collected edition, is available online from Dunbarton Oaks Electronic Texts site. Click on the link above to view article.

Spinden, Herbert J. A Study of Maya Art: Its Subject Matter & Historical Development. With a New Introduction & Bibliography by J. Eric S. Thompson, Formerly on the Staff of the Carnegie Institution of Washington. New York. Dover Publications, Inc. 1975.

Reprint of the work originally published by the Peabody Museum, Cambridge, Mass., in 1913 as Volume VI of the Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. Especially interesting is Spinden's analysis of the serpent motif found on Chenes style monster mouth doorways and elsewhere.

ARCHAEOLOGY


List of Sites

Becan


Potter, David F. Maya Architecture of the Central Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University. New Orleans 1977.

This monograph forms part of a series of final reports on the 1969-1971 National Geographic Society/Tulane University Program of Research in the Rio Bec area of Campeche, directed by E. Wyllys Andrews IV. Detailed coverage of Becan and Chicanna, with Xpuhil mentioned in the Appendix.

Thomas, Prentice M. Prehistoric Maya Settlement Patterns at Becan, Campeche, Mexico. Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University. New Orleans 1981.

Part of the National Geographic SocietyTulane University Reports of Research in the Rio Bec area of Campeche. Detailed settlement pattern survey of the Becan/Chicanna/Xpujil area, including mapping, surface collection, and test excavations to clarify the chronology of house construction.

Webster, David L. Defensive Earthworks at Becan, Campeche, Mexico: Implications for Maya Warfare. Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University. New Orleans 1976.

Also part of the National Geographic Society/Tulane University Reports of Research in the Rio Bec area of Campeche. Detailed study of the so-called "moat" at Becan.

Calakmul


Karl Ruppert & John H. Denison, Jr. Archaeological Reconnaissance in Campeche, Quintana Roo, & Peten. Publication 543. Washington D.C. Carnegie Institution of Washington. 1943.

Presents the results of four expeditions sent into southern Campeche and northern Guatemala by the Division of Historical Research of Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1938. Comes with maps, illustrations, photographs and building diagrams, including oversized maps. Includes sections on Calakmul, Becan, and Xpujil, among others.

Simon Martin and Nikolai Grube. Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens London: Thames and Hudson, 2000.

"Chronical of the Maya Kings and Queens is the first book to draw together and examine the greatest Maya dynasties in a single volume. Describing many of their own discoveries, two of the world's leading experts in Maya hieroglypic decipherment take the reader into a once hidden history. Conflict was ever-present in a landscape divided among numerous kingdoms. The rule of "overkings" who exerted authority over others helps us to understand the wealth and power of individuals like Yich'aak K'ak' of Calakmul and his nemesis Jasaw Chan K'awiil of Tikal. It was rare for women to achieve power but when, like Lady Six Sky of Naranjo, they did, they could be rapacious conquerors...

Chronical of the Maya Kings and Queens combines ground-breaking research with a highly readable history, offering the reader insight into one of the most exciting and fast-developing areas of world archaeology."

Ramón Carrasco. Calakmul: The Archaeology of a "Superpower." The Stevenson Press: Online Article.

Deep in the jungles of the Yucatan Peninsula, the city of Calakmul rose to challenge the all-powerful city of Tikal in the Guatemalan Peten. Ramon Carrasco reports on the recent finds in this lost Maya city. Follow the link to access this online article.

Ramón Carrasco V. "The Metropolis of Calakmul, Campeche," in Maya. Rizzoli: NY (1998)

This lavish photographic catalog of the 1998-99 Palazzo Grassi Maya exhibition of Maya art includes more than thirty articles by international scholars on various aspects of Maya civilization. Carrasco's article features magnificent photos of some of the funerary pottery and jade masks discovered at Calakmul.

Chacmultun


Thompson, Edward H. Archaeological Researches in Yucatan. Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. Vol. III, No. 1. Cambridge Massachusetts 1904.

Contains Thompson's watercolor copies of Maya frescoes, as well as maps, building diagrams and early photographs. Includes sections on Tzulá and Chacmultún.

Chicanna


Eaton, Jack D. "Chicanna: An Elite Center in the Rio Bec Region", in Preliminary Reports on Archaeological Investigations in the Rio Bec Area, Campeche, Mexico. Middle American Research Institute, Tulane University. New Orleans 1974.

Report on the 1970 season excavations at Chicanna by the discoverer of that site.

Potter, David F. Maya Architecture of the Central Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico. Middle American Research Institute, New Orleans 1977.

This monograph forms part of a series of final reports on the 1969-1971 National Geographic SocietyTulane University Program of Research in the Rio Bec area of Campeche, directed by E. Wyllys Andrews IV. Detailed coverage of Becan and Chicanna, with Xpuhil mentioned in the Appendix.

Dzibilnocac


Gendrop, Paul. Rio Bec, Chenes, & Puuc Styles in Maya Architecture. Labyrinthos Press. Lancaster, California 1998.

Gendrop includes a section on Dzibilnocac in his chapter, "An Attempt to Classify the Known Zoomorphic Entrances." Especially interesting is Gendrops' reconstructive drawing of the false monster mouth doorway on the west side of Complex A-1.

Joyce Kelly. An Archaeological Guide to Central and Southern Mexico. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman and London 2001.

Great travel guide which covers Dzibilnocac as well as many other infrequently visited sites.

Edzna


Andrews, George F. Edzna, Campeche, Mexico: Settlement Patterns & Monumental Architecture. Institute of International Studies, University of Oregon. Eugene 1969.

Izamal


Inga Clendinnen Ambivalent Conquests : Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517-1570. Cambridge Latin American Studies, February 1989.

"This beautifully written and finely researched book is the best account we have of the tragic confrontation between the Yucatan Maya and the Spanish invaders (both military and religious). It throws entirely new light on the far-from-benevolent role of the Franciscans -- especially the famous Diego de Landa -- in the process of crushing native Maya culture. This is a triumph of modern scholarship." (Michael Coe, Yale University).

Samuel Y. Edgerton and Jorge Perez De Lara Theaters of Conversion: Religious Architecture and Indian Artisans in Colonial Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, May 2001.

Mexico´s churches and conventos display a unique blend of European and native styles. Missionary Mendicant friars arrived in New Spain shortly after Cortes´s conquest of the Aztec empire in 1521 and immediately related their own European architectural and visual arts styles to the tastes and expectations of native Indians. Right from the beginning the friars conceived of conventos as a special architectural theater in which to carry out their proselytizing. Over four hundred conventos were established in Mexico between 1526 and 1600, built and decorated by native Indian artisans who became masters of European techniques and styles even as they added their own influence. The author argues that these magnificent sixteenth-century convents in old Mexico and seventeenth-century churches in New Mexico are as much a part of the artistic patrimony of American Indians as their pre-Conquest temples, pyramids, and kivas. Mexican Indians, in fact, adapted European motifs to their own pictorial traditions and thus made a unique contribution to the worldwide spread of the Italian Renaissance.

The author brings a wealth of knowledge of medieval and Renaissance European history, philosophy, theology, art, and architecture to bear on colonial Mexico at the same time as he focuses on indigenous contributions to the colonial enterprise. This ground-breaking study enriches our understanding of the colonial process and the reciprocal relationship between European friars and native artisans.

Friar Diego de Landa, translated with notes by William Gates. Yucatan Before and After the Conquest. Dover Publications, June 1978.

"Landa did all he could to wipe out Maya culture and civilization. In the famous auto-da-fé of July 1562 at Mani, as he tells us, he destroyed 5,000 "idols" and burned 27 hieroglypic rolls. And yet paradoxically Landa's book, written in Spain to defend himself against charges of despotic mismanagement, is the only significant account of Yucatan done in the early post-Conquest era. As the distinguished Maya scholar William Gates states in his introduction, "ninety-nine percent of what we today know of the Mayas, we know as the result either of what Landa has told us in the pages that follow, or have learned in the use and study of what he told. "Yucatan Before and After the Conquest" is the first English translation of this very important work.

Landa's book gives us a full account of Maya customs, daily activities, history, ceremonial festivals, and the many social and communal functions in which their life was expressed. Included here are the geography and natural history of Yucatan, the history of the Conquest, indigenous architecture and other aspects of Maya civilization (sciences, books, religion, etc.), native historical traditions, the Inquisition instituted by the Spanish clergy, Maya clothing, food, commerce, agriculture, human sacrifices, calendrical lore, and much more."

Kohunlich


Nalda, Enrique. Kohunlich. Mexico: INAH, 1994.

Labna


Thompson, Edward Herbert. "The Chultunes of Labná, Yucatan: Report of Explorations by the Museum, 1889 and 1890." Memoirs of the Peabody Museum of American Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University. 1.3 (1897): 75-92.

Edward Thompson did an extensive study of chultunes as part of his explorations of the ruins at Labna. "The use of these structures, so carefully made and so essential as reservoirs, as receptacles for human bones, and the fact that several have on the walls representations of birds, turtles, and other figures, indicate a singular and interesting feature in the customs of the unknown inhabitants of this ancient and ruined city." (F. Putnam, Curator of the Museum).

Lamanai


Pendergast, David M. "Lamanai, Belize: Summary of Excavation Results, 19741980." Journal of Field Archaeology: 8 (1981).

David Pendergast. Royal Ontario Museum. Archaeology in Belize & the Caribbean. Online resource.

A very informative presentation of the archaeology at Lemanai, Belize, by the archaeologist who directed the excavations.

Sayil


Killion, T.W., J.A. Sabloff, G. Tourtellot, & N.P. Dunning. "Intensive Surface Collection of Residential Clusters at Terminal Classic Sayil, Yucatan, Mexico." Journal of Field Archaeology 16 (1989): 273-94.

Maya cities in the Puuc were garden cities, meaning that residential communities and monumental architecture were located directly on, or adjacent to, prime agricultural land. The basic unit of settlement was the residential platform, built on rock outcroppings or low rises, and elevated to a height between 15 inches to 5 feet. This platform contained open patio space, thatched houses/outbuildings, and chultunes, or underground cisterns, and supported betwee 13 and 26 people. Between these residential platforms were cleared and fertilized vegetable plots. Each residential platform averaged a little over one and a half acres of garden plot.

Smyth, Michael P. & Christopher D. Dore. "Maya Urbanism at Sayil, Yucatan." Research & Exploration 10.1 (1994): 38-55.

This article presents evidence to support the following hypotheses: 1) Large monumental buildings were probably not elite residences, but rather special places for political, ceremonial & economic activity of the greater community. 2) Sayil appears to have had a large community specializing in the manufacture of ceramic vessels. The ceramic-making barrio had many stone building yet a low percentage of elite ceramics and no stone altars, which suggests an economically viable but politically constrained middle class. 3) Elite communities were spatially decentralized & distributed across the site in patterns that suggests they controlled the largest and most fertile tracts of cultivable land within the city. 4) The distribution of stone altars within & outside the civic-ceremonial precinct imply that ceremonialism, elite groups, and perhaps political power was not rigidly centralized at Sayil but shared among competing factions within Maya society.

Smyth, Michael P., Christopher D. Dore, & Nicholas P. Dunning. "Interpreting Prehistoric Settlement Patterns: Lessons from the Maya Center of Sayil, Yucatan" Journal of Field Archaeology 22 (1995): 321-347

Sabloff, Jeremy. "Settlement Patterns and Community Organization in the Maya Lowlands." Expedition: The Magazine of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology 38.1 (1996): 3-13.

Sayil is an area with very rich soils but no natural sources of water. The Maya who lived here between 800 and 1000 A.D. situated their houses on small natural rises where the hard limestone cap was very thin, allowing them to break through to the softer marl below where they could excavate cisterns to capture rain water during the rainy season. They used the excavated material to level the irregular rises and build platforms to rise their houses off the forest floor. The platforms also supported a plastered area to catch the rain and fill the cistern. Thus, the Maya of Sayil did not build large communal reservoirs as they did elsewhere. This and other evidence, such as the relative independence of the farmers, points to decentralized political & economic organization at Sayil.

Tikal


Carr, Robert F. & James E. Hazard. Tikal Reports no. 11, Map of the Ruins of Tikal, El Peten, Guatemala. University of Pennsylvania, University Museum. Philadelphia 1961.

Coe, William R. Tikal Reports no. 14, Excavations in the Great Plaza, North Terrace, and North Acropolis of Tikal. University of Pennsylvania, University Museum. Philadelphia 1990.

Culbert, T. Patrick. Tikal Reports no. 25, The Ceramics of Tikal: Vessels from the Burials, Caches, and Problematical Deposits. University of Pennsylvania, University Museum. Philadelphia 1993.

Trik, Helen Webster. Tikal Reports no. 31, The Graffiti of Tikal. University of Pennsylvania, University Museum. Philadelphia 1983.

Jones, Christopher, Linton Satterthwaite; illustrations by Wm. R. Coe. Tikal Reports no. 33, The Monuments and Inscriptions of Tikal. University of Pennsylvania, University Museum. Philadelphia 1982.

Coe, William R. Tikal, a handbook of the ancient Maya ruins. University of Pennsylvania, University Museum. Philadelphia 1988.

Harrison, Peter D. The Lords of Tikal: Rulers of an Ancient Maya City. London: Thames and Hudson Ltd. 1999.

Jones, Christopher. The Twin-Pyramid Group Pattern, a Classic Maya Architectural Assemblage at Tikal, Guatemala. Phiiladelphia: 1969.

Martin, Simon and Nikolai Grube. Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens London: Thames and Hudson, 2000.

Michel, Genevieve. The Rulers of TIkal: A Historical Recostruction & Field Guide to the Stelae. Guatemala, C.A.: Publicaciones Vista, 1991.

Trik, Aubrey S. The Splendid Tomb of Temple I at Tikal, Guatemala. Expedition: The Bulletin of The University Museum of the University of Pennsylvania, Vol. 6 Number 1, Fall 1963.

Linda Schele and Peter Mathews. "Tikal: Toh-Chak-Ich'ak's Palace", in The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs. New York: A Touchstone Book published by Simon & Schuster. 1998.

This study of the the palace of Great Jaguar Paw at Tikal, in the words of Schele and Mathews' heading, does indeed succeed in "Putting People Back in the Palaces of Tikal".

David Stuart. "The Arrival of Strangers": Teotihuacan and Tollan in Classic Maya History. Online article. P.A.R.I. Online Publications: Newsletter #25 - July, 1998.

The "Arrival of Strangers" with ties to Teotihuacan on the very day that Great Jaguar Paw died resulted in a break in royal succession and possibly the single most important political or military episode of early Classic Maya history, when Teotihuacan established itself as a dominant force in the politics and elite culture of the central Peten.

Uxmal


Linda Schele and Peter Mathews. "Uxmal: The Nunnery Quadrangle of Chan-Chak-K'ak'nal-Ahaw", in The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs. New York: A Touchstone Book published by Simon & Schuster. 1998.

A study of the symbolism and imagery of the Nunnery Quadrangle at Uxmal.

Kowalski, Jeff Karl. The House of the Governor: a Maya palace at Uxmal, Yucatan, Mexico. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman and London 1987.

A 298 page study of the House of the Governor at Uxmal. Contains comparisons with other architecture at Uxmal as well as at nearby sites in the Puuc region.

Kowalski, Jeff Karl. Guide to Uxmal & the Puuc Region: Kabah, Sayil and Labna. Producción Editorial Dante. Mérida, México 1990.

A tourist guide to Uxmal and the Puuc ruins of Kabáh, Sayil and Labná.

Rubio, Alfredo Barrera & José Huchím Herrera. English translation by Carlos A. Uribe. Architectural Restoration at Uxmal, 1989-1987. University of Pittsburgh Latin American Archaeology Reports 1. Pittsburgh, 1990.

Covers the restoration of the great Platform of the Governor and the southern stairway to the Nunnery Quadrangle by IHAH in 1986-87.

Rosenthal, David. Venus and the Maya. Online resource.

Pictorial story of the expedition to document the southernmost rise of the planet Venus as seen from the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal in the Yucatan Peninsula. This event only occurs once every eight years and the account describes efforts necessary to view and photograph it from a Mayan temple specially oriented to face it.

McNally, Nancy. A virtual reality scale model of the House of the Governor based on Jeff Kowalski's measurements. The Rabbit in the Moon, n. pag. Online. Internet. 30 Jan. 1997.

Xpujil


Proskouriakoff, Tatiana. An Album of Maya Architecture. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman and London 1963.

First edition published by the Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1946. Thirty-six paintings representing brilliant "restorations" of Maya buildings, with accompanying description of archaeological findings and line drawings of existing remains.

Ruppert, Karl & John H. Denison, Jr. Archaeological Reconnaissance in Campeche, Quintana Roo, & Peten. Publication 543. Washington D.C. Carnegie Institution of Washington. 1943.

Presents the results of four expeditions sent into southern Campeche and northern Guatemala by the Division of Historical Research of Carnegie Institution of Washington in 1932, 1933, 1934 and 1938. Comes with maps, illustrations, photographs and building diagrams, including oversized maps. Includes section on Xpujil.

Xunantunich


Pendergast, David M. & Graham, Elizabeth. "Fighting a Looting Battle: Zunantunich, Belize." Archaeology. July/August 1981.

Satterthwaite, Linton. "Plastic Art on a Maya Palace." Archaeology. Winter 1950.

An account of the uncovering of the great astronomical frieze at Xunantunich.

Wendy Ashmore. Secrets of the Stone Maiden. Penn Gazette, February 1997.

Short article on the Castillo by Dr Wendy Ashmore, archaeologist with the Xunantunich Archaeological Project sponsored by the University of Pennsylvania and the National Science Foundation.

MISCELLANEOUS:

Reading Maya Glyphs


Michael D. Coe. Breaking the Maya Code. Thames and Hudson: 1992.

"Breaking the Maya Code tells the story of the last great decipherment of an ancient script. Twenty years ago the ruined monuments of Maya civilization were mute, the hieroglyphic inscriptions on magnificent stelae, temples and palaces largely unread. Today, thanks to an extraordinary scientific breakthrough, these inscribed remains are revealing a history lost to humanity for a millennium."

John F. Harris and Stephen K. Stearns. Understanding Maya Inscriptions. University of Pennsylvania Press. Philadelphia: 1992.

"Unlike other books on Maya hieroglyphics, created for use in tandem with workshop attendance, this volume is designed to function as a self-teaching tool, to help the neophyte, and yet be of value to those more knowledgeable. It introduces the latest methods of structural analysis, illustrates traditional techniques for computing Maya calendrics, uses the currently acceptable orthography, provides syllabary and syntax, suggests new glyph readings and presents previous interpretations. The book incorporates the new underatanding of the language(s) used in the inscriptions, the phonetic nature of the glyphs, and explains the techniques used to ferret out their meanings.

Written by two men whose professional lives are far removed from academia, this volume exemplifies the close cooperation between professional and amateur in the field of Maya epigraphy. The authors, founding members of the Pre-Columbian Society at The University Museum [at the University of Pennsylvania], and of its glyph group, are veteran leaders of hieroglyph workshops. Their ability to explain the complexities of Maya writing has been honed through the monthly PCS workshops, where individual texts are grawed over until their meanings are revealed or, at least, suggested, and by their participation as workshop leaders at national and regional glyph workshops, including the annual Maya Weekend at The University Museum. Students in their classes and workshops have lauded Harris and Stearns for their ability to illuminate some of the more esoteric aspects of the inscriptions.

Here, then, is the result of their collaboration: a book that can teach you how to read the ancient Maya inscriptions, and put you on the path of an intellectual adventure whose fascination never ends. "

John F. Harris. "The Glyph Column", in The Codex. Published by the PreColumbian Society at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology.

John Harris' glyph column is a regular feature of The Codex.

Maya Cave Painting


Bassie-Sweet, Karen. At the Edge of the World: Caves and Late Classic Maya World View. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman and London 1996.

A study of the significance of caves in the Mayan world view.

Stone, Andrea J. Naj Tunich & the Tradition of Maya Cave Painting. University of Texas Press. Austin 1995.

A multidisciplinary effort to explain the ritual significance of caves and cave painting for the Maya.

George E. Stuart, with photographs by Wilbur E. Garrett. Maya Art Treasures Discovered in Cave, in National Geographic: Vol. 160, No. 2 (1981).

"Recently discovered inscriptions and paintings made 1,2000 years ago in a remote cavern in Guatemala are a boon to scholars--but also a lure for thieves who already have damaged some of the artworks with saws. Guards have been appointed to protect the art and writings, which name dates and notables of the Classic period."

Lavishly illustrated with photos and diagrams. A real adventure tale!

The Spanish Conquest


Inga Clendinnen Ambivalent Conquests : Maya and Spaniard in Yucatan, 1517-1570. Cambridge Latin American Studies, February 1989.

"This beautifully written and finely researched book is the best account we have of the tragic confrontation between the Yucatan Maya and the Spanish invaders (both military and religious). It throws entirely new light on the far-from-benevolent role of the Franciscans -- especially the famous Diego de Landa -- in the process of crushing native Maya culture. This is a triumph of modern scholarship." (Michael Coe, Yale University).

Samuel Y. Edgerton and Jorge Perez De Lara Theaters of Conversion: Religious Architecture and Indian Artisans in Colonial Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, May 2001.

Mexico´s churches and conventos display a unique blend of European and native styles. Missionary Mendicant friars arrived in New Spain shortly after Cortes´s conquest of the Aztec empire in 1521 and immediately related their own European architectural and visual arts styles to the tastes and expectations of native Indians. Right from the beginning the friars conceived of conventos as a special architectural theater in which to carry out their proselytizing. Over four hundred conventos were established in Mexico between 1526 and 1600, built and decorated by native Indian artisans who became masters of European techniques and styles even as they added their own influence. The author argues that these magnificent sixteenth-century convents in old Mexico and seventeenth-century churches in New Mexico are as much a part of the artistic patrimony of American Indians as their pre-Conquest temples, pyramids, and kivas. Mexican Indians, in fact, adapted European motifs to their own pictorial traditions and thus made a unique contribution to the worldwide spread of the Italian Renaissance.

The author brings a wealth of knowledge of medieval and Renaissance European history, philosophy, theology, art, and architecture to bear on colonial Mexico at the same time as he focuses on indigenous contributions to the colonial enterprise. This ground-breaking study enriches our understanding of the colonial process and the reciprocal relationship between European friars and native artisans.

Jeanette Favrot Peterson. The Paradise Garden Murals of Malinalco: Utopia and Empire in Sixteenth-Century Mexico. University of New Mexico Press, May 2001.

"In this study, Jeanette F. Peterson examines the murals within the dual heritage of pre-Hispanic and European muralism to reveal how the wall paintings promoted the political and religious agendas of the Spanish conquerors while preserving a record of pre-Columbian rituals and imagery....Peterson argues that the incorporation of native features ultimately worked to undermine the orthodoxy of the Christian messages. She places the murals´ imagery within the pre-Columbian tlacuilo (scribe-painter) tradition...and explores mural painting as an artistic response to acculturation."

Friar Diego de Landa, translated with notes by William Gates. Yucatan Before and After the Conquest. Dover Publications, June 1978.

"Landa did all he could to wipe out Maya culture and civilization. In the famous auto-da-fé of July 1562 at Mani, as he tells us, he destroyed 5,000 "idols" and burned 27 hieroglypic rolls. And yet paradoxically Landa's book, written in Spain to defend himself against charges of despotic mismanagement, is the only significant account of Yucatan done in the early post-Conquest era. As the distinguished Maya scholar William Gates states in his introduction, "ninety-nine percent of what we today know of the Mayas, we know as the result either of what Landa has told us in the pages that follow, or have learned in the use and study of what he told. "Yucatan Before and After the Conquest" is the first English translation of this very important work.

Landa's book gives us a full account of Maya customs, daily activities, history, ceremonial festivals, and the many social and communal functions in which their life was expressed. Included here are the geography and natural history of Yucatan, the history of the Conquest, indigenous architecture and other aspects of Maya civilization (sciences, books, religion, etc.), native historical traditions, the Inquisition instituted by the Spanish clergy, Maya clothing, food, commerce, agriculture, human sacrifices, calendrical lore, and much more."

Nelson Reed. The Caste War of Yucatan. Stanford University Press, 1964. 2nd Edition, June 2001.

"Not only is this exciting history (as compelling and dramatic as the best of historical fiction) but it covers events unaccountably neglected by historians....A brilliant contribution to history....Don´t miss this book." (Los Angeles Times)

Miguel A. Bretos, with photographs by Christian Rasmussen. Iglesias de Yucatán. Mérida, Yucatán: Producción Editorial Dante, 1992.

A classic study of the early churches of Yucatan, with numerous photographs. Unfortunately, it is now out of print.

Modern Central American Writers


Miguel Angel Asturias, Nobel Laureate 1967. The Mirror of Lida Sal: Tales Based on Mayan Myths and Guatemalan Legends. Latin American Literary Review Press. September 1997.

"...the book challenges readers with frequent convolutions leading to destinations that are hard to pin down...a surreal journey through a landscape charged with light irony and weightly implications." NY Times Book Review by James Polk.

Octavio Paz. The Other Mexico, in The Labyrinth of Solitude and Other Writings. Grove Press: June 1985.

A famous investigation of the Mexican psyche by a Nobel prize winner in Literature.

Travel Guides


Joyce Kelly. An Archaeological Guide to Mexico's Yucatán Peninsula. University of Oklahoma Press. Norman and London 1993.

Great travel guide which covers many infrequently visited sites. Each site has a "recent history" section which summarizes archaeological excavation, restoration & consolidation work done to date. Kelly also includes information on how to get to each site.

Richard & Rosalind Perry. Maya Missions: Exploring the Spanish Colonial Churches of Yucatan Santa Barbara: Espadaña Press. 1988.

A traveler's guide to exploring the colonial churches of Yucatan. Perry writes, "Our focus is on the Spanish mission churches, built and maintained by the Maya over the centuries. More than one hundred of these still grace the towns and villages of Yucatan, coming in a wonderful variety of sizes and styles: from venerable Franciscan monasteries to elegant parish churches and timeless little country chapels....When you are basking on the beaches of Yucatan or clambering over the ancient ruins, you are among other tourists; but when you explore the missions, you are among the Maya people in their own communities. While you are visiting their churches, savor also their unique culture and customs, before the powerful currents of change sweep this traditional society away."

Kelemen, Pál and Elizabeth. Incidents of Discovery of Art in the Americas, 1932—1964. Photographs by Elisabeth Kelemen. Edited by Judith Hancock Sandoval, Forward by Mary E. Miller. Sunbelt Press. San Diego 2005.

Written by the late Pál Keleman, an art historian of Hungarian extraction, and his wife, Elizabeth, an opera singer by training, the journals chronicle the couple's extensive travels throughout the Americas, an odyssey that began with a visit to Harvard's Peabody Museum in the fall of 1932. At that time, only a few of the sites the Kelemens would visit had been excavated, much less opened to mass tourism, and literature on the subject of Precolumbian archaeology was all but nonexistent.
Encouraged by the Peabody's Alfred Tozzer, a prominent Mesoamerian archaeologist, the Kelemens set out not only to document a broad array of Precolumbian material both in museum collections and in the field, but to comment on and interpret it as art historians. The result of the their efforts, Medieval American Art, was a seminal work, and for decades the only one of its kind. Subsequent scholarship eventually rendered it obsolete.
Abundantly illustrated with Elizabeth's photographs and delightfully written, The Kelemen Journals presents the story behind the story, relaying the actual adventures the couple experienced in their pursuit of scholarship and the extraordinary peoples they encountered.

Stephens, John Lloyd. Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. Illustrated by Frederick Catherwood. Dover Publications, Inc. New York 1963.

An unabridged republication of the work first published by Harper & Brothers in 1843. In 2 volumes.

Stephens, John Lloyd. Incidents of Travel in Yucatan. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington and London 1996.

A new abridged edition by Karl Ackerman, with historical and modern photographs.

Stephens, John Lloyd. Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, & Yucatan. Illustrated by Frederick Catherwood. Dover Publications, Inc. New York 1969.

An unabridged republication of the work first published by Harper & Brothers in 1841, to which has been added certain material from the edition published by Arthur Hall, Virtue & Co., London, in 1854. In 2 volumes.

Stephens, John Lloyd. Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, & Yucatan. Smithsonian Institution Press. Washington & London 1993.

A new abridged edition by Karl Ackerman of the work first published by Harper & Brothers in 1841, with historical and modern photographs.

Stephens, John Lloyd. Incidents of Travel in Egypt, Arabia Petræa, & the Holy Land. Illustrated by Frederick Catherwood & others. Dover Publications, Inc. New York 1970.

An unabridged republication of the work first published by Harper & Brothers in 1837, edited and with an introduction by Victor Wolfgang Von Hagen.

ONLINE RESOURCES


FAMSI: Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies. See links to individual sections below:

The Bibliografia Mesoamericana (FAMSI).

This bibliography is a joint project of FAMSI and the Library of the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. It can be searched by Author, Title, Site, or Subject, and is a fantastic resource for finding scholarly publications on the Maya sites.

Justin Kerr. The Maya Vase Database (FAMSI).

An archive of rollout photographs of Maya vases, plus the Maya Vase Database, an extension of the Maya Vase Books by Justin Kerr, containing over a thousand rollout photographs that can be viewed by using the database search pages. The database contains information about each vase: its dimensions, its type, (painted, carved, incised) and its location, if known. This is a spectacular site!

The Linda Schele Drawings (FAMSI).

"This wonderful archive represents the drawings made over the career of the great Mesoamerican scholar Linda Schele, who died in 1998. Linda was a prolific scholar who originally trained as a studio art teacher. Most of the drawings in this collection were made by her as illustrations for her numerous publications." Peter Mathews.

The John Montgomery Drawing Archive (FAMSI).

John Montgomery is a widely recognized illustrator of PreColumbian art and Maya hieroglyphic writing, with special interest in hieroglyphic artists' signatures and the "hand" or artistic style of sculptors and scribes. His work is featured in major publications on Maya writing.


David Hixson. Tulane University. Mesoamerican Photo Archives.

An ever-growing archive of slides and prints from all over Mesoamerica. Currently includes photos from Bonampak, Cacaxtla, Chalcatzingo, Cholula, Loltun Caves, Monte Alban, Teotihuacan, & the National Museum of Anthropology in Mexico City. Includes excellent commentary & detailed photographic essays.

Dunbarton Oaks: Dunbarton Oaks Electronic Texts.

Selected Dumbarton Oaks publications are being presented on the web in an effort to increase access to the material. The full text and illustrations are available using Acrobat Reader. Single copies may be printed for individual use.

David Rosenthal. Venus and the Maya.

Pictorial story of the expedition to document the southernmost rise of the planet Venus as seen from the ancient Mayan city of Uxmal in the Yucatan Peninsula. This event only occurs once every eight years and this account describes efforts necessary to view and photograph it from a Mayan temple specially oriented to face it.

David Pendergast. Royal Ontario Museum. Archaeology in Belize & the Caribbean.

A very informative presentation of the archaeology at Lemanai, Belize, by the archaeologist who directed the excavations.


Please send comments to: mayaruins@gmail.com

Last update: April 15, 2001