Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Merle Greene Robertson. Dos Pilas, Petén, Guatemala. Stela 16. About 1967.
Photo source: Merle Greene Robertson, Never in Fear (San Francisco: Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, 2006)

Authored for us by Merle Greene Robertson. (August 30, 1913 – April 22, 2011)

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A paper presented by Dra. Lorena Careaga Viliesid in honor of her induction into la Sociedad Mexicana de Geografia y Estadistica.

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The Akab Dzib Project, Chichén Izá, Yucatán, Mexico- 1977, 1978, 1980 (2020)

The Akab Dzib was constructed of stone by the ancient Maya in late AD 800, and located about 120 meters southeast of the Caracol (Observatory) at Chichén Itzá, Yucatán, Mexico.

This book is a report about research in 1977, fieldwork in 1978, and excavation of what is called the core of the Akab Dzib in 1980 to determine how it was constructed, and its purpose. A second goal was to detect any buried chambers or rooms within the core.
Excavation determined that the core was constructed by the Maya with large limestone slabs from a nearby quarry as a foundation for additional structures, but those structures were never built. And, no additional architectural features were detected within the core, but they may exist because only 21 cubic meters of the core’s 1,700 cubic meters was investigated.
Now, forty years after excavation of the core, the next generation of archaeologists has the opportunity to increase our knowledge of the core’s purpose by exploring every cubic meter of it with digital imaging generated by a newly developed technology– Electronic Resistivity Tomography (ERT-3D).

A comparative study of 1870s and 1980s photographs of Maya architecture at Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, Yucatán, Mexico by Lawrence G. Desmond | Blurb Books. (2020)

After evaluating Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon’s 1870s photos of ancient Maya architecture at Chichén Itzá and Uxmal it seemed imperative to initiate a project to compare them to my 1980s photos, and in that way make them available to historians of architecture, art historians, archaeologists, conservators, and anyone with an interest in the ancient Maya.
To take comparative photos of the architecture required that photographic prints of the Le Plongeon photos at Chichén Itzá and Uxmal from archives be assembled, and brought to the sites for replication by photographing from the same distance, direction, and elevation.

This book compares 26 photos of Chichén Itzá and 18 photos of Uxmal in Yucatán, Mexico taken by Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon in the 1870s to photos taken by Desmond of the same architectural subjects in 1980.

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1993 GPR Chichen field crewB.jpg

Field crew Chichén Itzá GPR Project 1993.  L to R: John Muehlhausen, James Callaghan, Lawrence Desmond, William Sauck, and Kristen Zschomler.


2020 will be the  23rd and 27thyear anniversaries of  the Yucatán Geophysical Archaeological Survey Project at the Maya archaeological sites of: Chichén Itzá (1993 and 1997), Balankanche Cave (1997), Kinich Kakmo Pyramid, Izamal (1997), and Dzibilchaltún (1997).

The 1993 and 1997 Yucatán Geophysical Archaeological Survey Projects are dedicated to Alfredo Barrera Rubio, and in memory of Norberto Gonzalez Crespo, and Peter Schmidt.

A summary of each geophysical survey has been published as a PDF, and can be viewed on your browser by clicking the following link: Geophysical archaeological surveys at Chichen, and other siites in Yucatan 1993, 1997

The posted PDF project summary is to honor and thank those who worked with us in the field or otherwise supported our work in many special ways, and to bring the use of geophysical technology designed for archaeological applications to the attention of our archaeologist colleagues.

The principal investigators for the project were William A. Sauck, Professor of Geophysics, Institute for Water Sciences, Western Michigan University-Kalamazoo, and Lawrence G. Desmond, Assistant professor of anthropology/archaeology, University of Minnesota-Morris. The academic positions were as of 1993.

The Project Summary PDF for 1993 and 1997 includes the following:

  • A list the personnel associated with the 1993 and 1997 projects: 1) Project Field Personnel, 2) Centro INAH Yucatán Personnel, and 3) Friends of the Project.
  • Historical background: The 15 years of development and planning prior to 1990s fieldwork including analysis of limestone samples from Yucatán to determine their level radar attenuation by Stanford Research International in the late 1970s. And, fieldwork and newly developed geophysical methodology for archaeology during the 1990s.
  • Ground Penetrating Radar and Electrical Resistivity surveys, and survey results at Chichén Itzá in 1993.
  • Ground Penetrating Radar surveys and their results at Chichén Itzá, Balankanche Cave, Kinich Kakmo Pyramid at Izamal, and Dzibilchaltún in 1997.
  • Project presentations, video documentation, web postings, and bibliography:
    • The plan for the 1997 geophysical survey projects was presented atthe Institute of Anthropological Investigations at UNAM prior to fieldwork.
    • Presentations of the results of the 1993 and 1997 projects were made at Centro INAH Yucatán at the completion of fieldwork.
    • Professional video documentation of the 1993 Chichén Itzá project.
    • Internet postings of project papers and reports in 1999: The 1993 and 1997 unpublished GPR and resistivity reports to INAH along with published papers, maps, selected photos, and illustrations generated by the projects were posted to the web site ArchaeoPlanet Blog and Archive hosted by WordPress.
    • The 1993 and 1997 Yucatán Geophysical Survey Project materials are archived by the Middle American Research Institute (MARI), Tulane University.
    • Bibliography- Reports to INAH, and archaeology and geophysics journal publications.


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The New York Public Library’s Photographer’s Identities Catalog (PIC) website PIC – Photographers’ Identities Catalog states:

“Photographers’ Identities Catalog is an experimental interface to a collection of biographical data describing photographers, studios, manufacturers, and others involved in the production of photographic images. Consisting of names, nationalities, dates, locations and more, PIC is a vast and growing resource for the historian, student, genealogist, or any lover of photography’s history. The information has been culled from trusted biographical dictionaries, catalogs and databases, and from extensive original research by NYPL Photography Collection staff.”

Some problems with the PIC entry for Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon:

As stated, the PIC relies on “trusted” information from a number of published sources, but the source about Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon, The Union List of Artist’s Names (ULAN) published online by the J. Paul Getty Trust in Los Angeles, has a number of factual errors in need of correction, and lacks bibliographic entries of substance about their photography.

Alice Dixon Le Plongeon- ULAN Full Record Display (Getty Research)

Augustus Le Plongeon- ULAN Full Record Display (Getty Research)

The biographical “Note” in the ULAN entry is used for both Alice and Augustus Le Plongeon: “British, of French origins; later lived in America. Augustus worked with his wife Alice, photographing local people and archeological sites, including St.Thomas, Tiahuanaco, and Chichén Itzá.”

An update and corrections to the ULAN biographical note:

1) Alice Dixon Le Plongeon (1851-1910) was born in London, and had no French origins. Augustus Le Plongeon (1826-1908) was born on the Island of Jersey to French parents.

2) Both Augustus and Alice were trained photographers. Alice learned photography from her father Henry Dixon, a noted London photographer, and Augustus learned photography from the English photographer Fox Talbot. He began practicing photography in the 1850s in San Francisco, California.

3) Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon first met in London in 1871, and were married in New York City before leaving for Yucatán in 1873 to carry out archaeological and photographic projects. Alice did not accompany Augustus on photographic expeditions to the island of St. Thomas in the Caribbean or Tiahuanaco, Peru in the 1860s.

4) From 1873 to 1884, the Le Plongeons photographed Maya archaeological sites, ethnographic subjects, made portraits of native peoples and colonialists, landscapes, flora and fauna, and Colonial architecture in Yucatán, Mexico, and British Honduras (Belize).

5) Recently accessed archival materials indicate Alice was behind the camera as much as Augustus, if not more, and was responsible for the processing of their wet collodion glass negatives, and prints.

6) More than 2,500 negatives and prints made by the Le Plongeons are currently archived in public institutions, and private collections.

It should be noted about two years ago the administrator of Getty’s ULAN stated they planned to correct the entry for the Le Plongeons. It was to be based on the Getty Research Institute’s short biographical entry for Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon that can be found in its Finding Aid. The update has yet to be made to the web page, so it was thought prudent to publish this post until corrections are made.

In the meanwhile, for an excellent biographical summary of the Le Plongeons’ lives and work in archaeology and photography consult the Getty Research Institute’s Finding Aid for the Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon collection of photographs and other archival materials. Getty Research Institute: INVENTORY OF THE AUGUSTUS AND ALICE DIXON LE PLONGEON PAPERS, circa 1840-1937, bulk 1860-1910 Le Plongeon (Augustus and Alice Dixon) papers

Additionally, the Wikipedia entries for Alice Dixon and Augustus Le Plongeon are also an excellent summary.

Alice Dixon Le Plongeon – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Augustus Le Plongeon – Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

For addition background on the Le Plongeon just enter the ArchaeoPlanet Le Plongeon Archive by clicking on the sidebar.

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I agree, this has little or nothing to do with archaeology, but I wanted to share an amusing moment as we drove through a downpour, windshield wipers on full blast, on the way to SFO a couple days ago. Give us more…

Sign on Interstate 280 during an unexpected rain storm near the San Francisco Airport.

Sign on Interstate 280 during an unexpected rain storm near the San Francisco International Airport.

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Mexico- As it was Cover 1            The photographs in Mexico- As it was were taken in the early 1970s during days off from classes at the University of the Americas in Cholula, Mexico. We traveled to cities and villages in the mountainous dry highlands, and to the humid tropical lowlands of Mexico. The photos show life before the rapid social and economic changes of the final two decades of the 20th century.

The color and black-and-white photos are grouped into separate sections, even though there is some overlap in subject matter. Both sections begin with rural farming, fishing, and village life. Next, in contrast to that way of life, are the middle class on Sunday outings, the urban professionals such as a Puebla doctor and his family, a Puebla supermarket, and my teachers who were university-trained archaeologists. Then come the young women of important Puebla families, dressed in traditional sombreros and flowing yellow dresses, who showed their astonishing synchronized horse riding skill–sidesaddle. I am still amazed at how they stayed on their horses when coming to a sudden stop from a gallop. Not to be left out are the one percent who own large farms, ex-haciendas, cattle and bull breeding ranches, and live a life with an international flavor, yet remain very Mexican.

If you would like to Preview the book on the Blurb web site click on this link:

MEXICO – As it was. Photographs of Life in the 1970s. by Lawrence G. Desmond:| Blurb Books

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The Absent Stone posterThe Absent Stone

A documentary film by Sandra Carla Rozental and Jesse Lerner

35mm, 80 minutes

Showings: Scheduled for 14 cities in Mexico and later in the US.

For photos, trailer, animation and current news (Spanish): The film: La piedra ausente – The Absent Stone

The documentary film The Absent Stone has just been released. It tells the story of the removal of the enormous monolithic stone sculpture of the Aztec rain god Tlaloc in the 1960s from the village of Coatlinchan to adorn the entrance to Mexico’s just completed National Museum of Anthropology and History. The taking of the stone was not without serious village resistance, but with help from the Mexican Army, and large moving rigs, in the end it was hauled to the entrance of the museum where it stands today. The large theater crowd that viewed the film’s first screening a few weeks ago at the Cineteca in Mexico City gave it rave reviews as did the people of Coatlinchan at an outdoor showing in the village. And while it’s been more than 40 years since the stone was taken, the pain of the loss remains. One village woman commented to the filmmakers: “it’s great that you made the film, now can you help us get our stone back.”

Filmmakers Jesse Lerner and Sandra Rozental add–

            In 1964, the largest carved stone of the Americas was moved from the town of San Miguel Coatlinchan in the municipality of Texcoco to the National Anthropology Museum in Mexico City in an impressive feat of engineering.  The extraction of the monolith, which represents the pre-Hispanic water deity Tlaloc, set off a rebellion in the town and led to the intervention of the army.  Today, the enormous stone, now upright, is an urban monument; it has been transformed into one of the principal icons of Mexican national identity. The inhabitants of Coatlinchan insist that the removal of the stone has caused droughts. Representations and replicas of the absent stone appear in the village and the memories of the inhabitants.  Using animations, archival materials and contemporary encounters with the protagonists of the transport of the stone, this documentary film explores the relevance of the ruins of the past in the present day.”

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Mysteries of the Maya Calender Museum by Leanna Carrasco and Davíd Carrasco. 2012

  Mysteries of the Maya Calendar Museum

By Leanna Carrasco and Davíd Carrasco

Illustrations by Mario Garnsworthy and photographs

This is the book we have been waiting for. Leanna and her father David Carrasco have just published a children’s book about the ancient Maya, and it looks to be a great read. To whet your appetite, here is the blurb from the Amazon posting… LGD

“Did Maya peoples and their calendar predict the end of the world? Will the world end soon? This book has an answer to these questions and more in language and pictures that kids are sure to enjoy. Come join Carlos, Lucia, and their new friend Julia as they learn about the Maya calendar and go on a dream journey to find the truth about the end of the world! Along the way, they meet a talking macaw named Octavio, discover the secret of the Maya glyph for the end of time, fly down a portal to the ancient city of Chichén Itzá, hear the song of the daykeeper Smoking Parrot, and learn the magic of the phrase “the beginning is in the end.” Authors Laanna and Davíd Carrasco are a father-and-daughter team with ethnic roots in Mexico who descend from generations of schoolteachers and an artist from the United States-Mexico borderlands. Illustrated with drawings by Marlo Garnsworthy and photographs.”

Paperback: 126 pages

Publisher: Cruce de Caminos

Date: November 9, 2012

ISBN-10: 0988539209

ISBN-13: 978-0988539204

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José Antonio Rodriguez’s exhibit titled Otras miradas. Fotógrafas en México 1832-1960 focuses on women photographers of Mexico. It opened recently in Madrid at the Casa de America. In the exhibit is an album of 101 photographic prints made by Alice Dixon Le Plongeon titled Yucatán ilustrado. Ruinas, Mexico, 1876. The subject matter of the prints is of the landscape of Yucatán, ethnographic subjects, city and country life, and the ancient Maya ruins. The album itself was probably constructed in 1876 by her husband Augustus Le Plongeon in Merida, Yucatán. In size, it is 17.7 x 13.1 cm.

The album is owned by the Fundación Cultural Televisa of Mexico. It may have been part of the Museo Yucateco collection in Merida prior to accession by Televisa. The prints in the album are exquisite, and add to our knowledge of the photographic output of the Le Plongeons during the 1870s and 1880s in Yucatán. An exact count has not yet been made of all the photographic prints made by the photographer and writer Alice Dixon Le Plongeon, but extant are more than 2,000 in private and public collections. We will provide additional information about the album as it becomes available.

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