Archive for the ‘Maya’ Category


Bart Anderson, journalist and computer specialist, saw the need for faster access to the data entries for the 1,037 photos in the Catalog of the 19th century photographs of Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon.

While the catalog was published as a book and PDF with an introduction that gives background about each collection, historical context, catalog organization, and other technical information Anderson noted considerable time was required to search the photo collections.

The catalog photo entries had been created as a Word document by Desmond. Anderson then took the Word file and converted it into a CSV file that is compatible with most spreadsheet and database programs, and then into an Excel file for use here. Unfortunately WordPress does not support CVS files. Email me, and I can send a copy of the file.

The Excel file is free for download, and while it retains the copyright of Lawrence G. Desmond, it is authorized for use for research purposes. The Excel file is about 300 Kb.

Catalog Organization and Materials Description

NOTE: For a complete introduction to the catalog of collections refer to the book:

A Catalog of the 19th Century Photographs of Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon

The catalog is subdivided into five collections. Each photographic item in a collection has been cataloged using a data entry card with the fields as listed below.


American Museum of Natural History (AM)

Donald Dixon Photo Album (DA)

Getty Research Institute (GRI)

Peabody Museum at Harvard University (PM)

Philosophical Research Society (PRS)

Other fields

Catalog number: # 17

Museum photo identification number: PM-P2500F


Archaeological Site






European exploration


Henry Dixon





Lantern slide

Print or Tracing




Collodio-chloride printing-out paper

Dry glass-plate

Gelatin glass-plate

Wet collodion glass-plate

Stereo:  Yes or No

Size:  4 x 8 Inches


Upper Temple of the Jaguars.

Entrance to inner temple, south pilaster, north façade, K-8, bas relief.  [Any recognizable person in a photo is identified]

Cross Reference:

X Ref: PM-P2500F


X Ref: PM-P2500F similar

The Cross Reference field gives the catalog numbers of identical or similar photos in other collections. Similar photos are defined as having the same subject matter, but they were taken at a slightly different angle or time of day from the same camera position. The differences between similar photos are often subtle and hardly noticeable at first viewing.

When the Cross Reference field does not list an identical photo in another collection that indicates that the photographic item is unique to that collection.

Note for Excel users: Under the column titled “Description” — the cell is to short to view the text for item numbers 34, 190, and 960. Excel has entered a string of ##### rather than the text. To view the texts simply double click within the cell.

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Title page of doctoral dissertation.

Title page of doctoral dissertation.

Lorena Careaga V

Lorena Careaga V.

A new doctoral dissertation of note: “Invaders, explorers and travelers: Everyday life in Yucatán from another perspective, 1834-1906” by Dr. Lorena Careaga. Careaga, a professor and director of the library at the Universidad del Caribe in Yucatán, recently completed a multi-year study of how life was lived in Yucatán, Mexico during the Caste War that pitted the Maya against the central government of Mexico for more than a half century.

Bibliographic reference:

Lorena Careaga, “Invasores, exploradores y viajeros: la vida cotidiana en Yucatán desde la óptica del otro, 1834-1906” [“Invaders, explorers and travelers: Everyday life in Yucatán from another perspective, 1834-1906”], Ph.D. Dissertation, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Facultad de Filosofía y Letras, México, February 2015.


This doctoral dissertation summarizes and critically reviews the life and work of 30 men and 3 women from outside of Mexico who traveled through Yucatán between 1834 and 1906 as explorers, expeditionary photographers, war correspondents, mercenaries, government representatives, military officers, merchants, artists and naturalists, and who left published accounts of their travels, as well as their personal appraisal of everyday life during the revolt of the Maya against the government of Mexico called the Caste War of Yucatán. The dissertation also assesses the contribution of nineteenth century travelers in Yucatán to the then developing fields of archaeology, anthropology with special emphasis on Maya ethnography.

While there are numerous studies about nineteenth century foreign travelers to Mexico, in the case of the Yucatán Peninsula this dissertation fills two important research gaps. The first is travelers’ reports of everyday life in general, and in particular, how life was lived during the Caste War while under a permanent threat of attack. Analyzed and placed in historical context are travelers’ first hand descriptions of everyday life in times of conflict, and the effects of warfare on Yucatecan life.

Secondly, most bibliographic compilations list only fifteen foreign travelers to the Yucatán Peninsula from 1834 to 1906. Some important observers were left out because their theories and opinions were considered unacceptable, and others were overlooked because their writings were not translated. This dissertation presents a comprehensive and systematic study of all thirty-three foreign travelers.

Finally, Careaga compares and contrasts photographs, drawings, maps, engravings, vocabularies, and other documentary materials produced by travelers, explorers, and expeditionary photographers, and assesses their contribution to our knowledge of life in Yucatán during this period of revolutionary conflict.

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Stuart Report 60- hieroglyhic panel blog            I regularly receive the publications of the Boundary End Archaeological Research Center that focus on the decipherment and interpretation of Maya hieroglyphics. When I received the September 2013 Report 60, “The Rise of Chak Ek’,“ I was not prepared for the amazing story behind the research.

To do justice to the “back-story” of Report 60, authored by Native American inmates in the Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California, it seemed best to present the report Preface in the words of its author, archaeologist George E. Stuart.

Dr. Stuart’s (I think he would rather be called George) accomplishments in the field of Mesoamerican archaeology are well known to both professionals and the public. His many articles and books would be too long to list here, yet few outside of the profession of archaeology are aware of his quiet work as staff archaeologist for the National Geographic Society for decades until his retirement in 2001. His work brought discoveries and research about the ancient civilizations of Mesoamerica to a worldwide audience.

I was always in awe Geographic’s accurate, but impactful photographs of the Maya, Aztec, Olmec, Mixtec and Zapotec (the list is long) ruins made by its photographers, but Dr. Stuart was always working behind the scenes to foster those articles, and to be certain the writers and photographers had it right. Report 60 is again representative of his quiet and persistent work that resulted in an important contribution to the study of Maya writing by prison inmates who were written off by some in this society—those shortsighted persons were wrong.

For a copy of Report 60, “The Rise of Chak Ek’,“ or any of the other many publications of BEARC online, go to: Boundary End Archaeological Resource Center

Stuart Report 60 cover blog

        “FOR MORE THAN A DECADE the Center for Maya Research and its successor, the Boundary End Archaeology Research Center, have taken part in a remarkable and productive relationship with a group of Native American inmates serving time in the Pleasant Valley State Prison in Coalinga, California, and other prisons in the state.

The story began in 2001, when Barry A. Bausman, also known by his Cherokee name, Uguku Usdi (“Little Owl”), and some fellow prisoners took an interest in the ancient Maya calendar and in astronomy. This came after they read Michael D. Coe’s 1999 classic, “Breaking the Maya Code.” Uguku Usdi was so captivated by this history of the decipherment of the Maya hieroglyphic script that he wrote a letter of inquiry to the people mentioned in the text or bibliography who were likely still alive. I responded, and thus began an exchange of letters and telephone calls that continues to this day. The correspondence file is now more than a foot thick, and growing.

Uguku Usdi and the study group he founded had begun work on the astronomical and calendrical content of the Maya codices with a total lack of source material. Thus, my first task was clear – to provide some basic references.

At the time I received Uguku Usdi’s first letter (forwarded from National Geographic, shortly after my retirement), I was in the midst of sorting books – my own library of some 7,000 volumes along with about that same number from the library of the late Matthew W. Stirling, the gift of his widow, Marion Stirling Pugh.

As one might imagine, many duplicates came to light each day. These I set aside for the group. Hardback books, forbidden to go directly to prisoners, I shipped to prison chaplain Ricardo Duran, who placed them in his office library; paperbacks I sent (in packages conforming to strict limits of content and weight) directly to Uguku Usdi’s cell block. Soon, the prisoners had access, not only to the best reproductions of the codices themselves, but also to complete sets of our own Center’s special publications and serials- Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing and Ancient America, along with papers by scholars, past and present, who had written on Maya astronomy and the calendar.

The letters that came back were both encouraging and, at times, somewhat discouraging. Uguku Usdi’s vivid descriptions of the In Lak’ech Study Group (as they called themselves) sitting around in the yard of Cell Block 4 reading papers by John Teeple, Floyd Lounsbury, David Stuart, and others were wonderful. Nonetheless heartening were the stories of frequent “lockdowns,” when the prisoners, confined to their cells, had to rely upon Maya hieroglyph flash cards held outside the bars for the response of others of the group who could see them!

Soon, the In Lak’ech Study Group began to produce papers. Eventually these reached more than a dozen in number. These I shared with colleagues who specialized in the topics involved, particularly Mayanist Bruce Love of Littlerock, California, and Professor Anthony F. Aveni of Colgate University, Hamilton, New York. Both agreed that the paper presented here deserved publication. Thus, I offer it here as the final print issue of the Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing, nearly 30 years after the appearance of Number One.

For co-authors Uguku Usdi, Alberto Saa, and Christopher Wehunt and their colleagues, this is an achievement of the first order, accomplished in the face of almost unimaginable odds. As is the case with all inmates, these men had neither e-mail nor access to the Internet. And if that were not enough, the continuing movement of prisoners among California’s hideously overcrowded facilities now separates the members of the In Lak’ech Study Group. We are honored to publish this result of their determined efforts.”

George Stuart

June 2013

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Maya musicians playing at the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida in Yucatán, Mexico. 2013. Pic: Milbrath

Maya musicians playing at the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida in Yucatán, Mexico. 2013.      Pic: Milbrath

           Professor Susan Milbrath, curator of Latin American Art and Archaeology for the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida, presented her paper, “Agro-astronomical evidence among the ancient Maya” at the colloquium “La relación sociedad- naturaleza entre los mayas” held in the Gran Museo del Mundo Maya de Mérida in Yucatán, Mexico on October 18.

           Prof. Milbrath’s paper is a new exploration of the role of Venus and solar eclipse cycles in Maya agronomy. Maya agricultural cycles today indicate that observations of the sun and moon, and the Pleiades remain important, but her study also documents observations of Venus and solar eclipses in relation to agricultural cycles in the Madrid Codex, suggesting a sophisticated form of agro-astronomy in ancient Maya agricultural almanacs.

Abstract of the paper–

“La Evidencia Agro-astronómica Entre los Antiguos Maya”

En los c6dices mesoamericanos, Venus está estrechamente vlnculada con el ciclo solar, en almanaques que integran cinco ciclos de Venus, con ocho años solares, en los que este planeta vuelve a la misma posición en eo relación con el añio solar, cada ocho añios. El uso de este almanaque se extiende desde el centro de México hasta el área maya, y al parecer se originó en el período Preclásico Tardio.

Es evidente que las fases de Venus y eventos de esta naturaleza, fueron seguidos de cerca, en re!aci6n con el ciclo de siembra, lo que refleja una forma de agro-astronomía que sólo estamos empezando a comprender.

Article in the Diario de Yucatan

An article about Prof. Milbrath’s paper was published in the Merida newspaper Diario de Yucatán on October 19, 2013. The article can be accessed by clicking on this link: Diario de Yucatán- Valoran el sistema agroastronómico maya 19 Oct 2013

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Phillip Hofstetter, chair of the department of art at California State University East Bay, has recently published a book of enchanting and eye bending photographic panoramas of Maya archaeological sites.

Maya Yucatán: An Artist’s Journey

Author: Phillip Hofstetter; Foreword: David Freidel


“Before ever setting out on my adventures in Yucatán I did not know that I was preparing to walk a spiritual path in that ancient country. Before going there I had not taken much account of my yearning to seek out sacred places. But in Yucatán I discovered this longing for wandering among the people and landscapes of the peninsula. I eventually understood that there was an invisible spirit world of the Maya that animated their stories, their ancient ruins, and all their works from two thousand years of civilization in that ancient land.”–from Maya Yucatán. 

Phillip Hofstetter first visited Yucatán in 1987 and was entranced, as much by the sheer physical beauty of the region as by the enduring character of the Maya people still inhabiting the region. For more than twenty years he has been documenting his travels in Yucatán and his professional collaboration with archaeological excavation projects there. His reflections on the Maya culture emphasize survival and adaptation, while images of ancient sites, the churches of the Franciscan mission period, and the ruined haciendas of the henequen period serve as physical reminders of the enduring ways in which the Maya have shaped the landscape of Yucatán over millennia.

Hardback- 11 x 9 in., 160 pages, 102 color and black-and-white photographs, 1 drawing, 2 maps.

University of New Mexico Press

ISBN 978-0-8263-4694-0

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