New Publication Initiative at the Mesoamerican Center

New Publicatio cover

The Mesoamerica Center is excited to be involved in the production of two important monograph series in the fields of ancient American archaeology and art history, Ancient America and Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing. Both publications have a long and venerable history in Mesoamerican studies, and have been the source of a number of path-breaking works over the past three decades. Appearing this summer is Ancient America 13, The Fall of the Great Celestial Bird: A Master Myth in Early Classic Central Mexico by Jesper Nielsen and Christophe Helmke, both of the University of Copenhagen. 


Dr. David Stuart at The Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C

David Stuart

The Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C will host Dr. David Stuart for their June feature event. His talk will present a new look at the famous triadic temples of Palenque, Mexico, known as the Cross Group. Using an integrated approach to the architectural complex, Dr. Stuart aims to show how its hieroglyphic inscriptions and iconography worked together to present a tightly interwoven narrative that bridges mythology and history, highlighting the status and ceremonial power of king K’inch Kan Bahlam, who dedicated the shrine complex early in his reign in 682 A.D.

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Holy week Art Program

Student pose in front of alfombra

During the 2015 Spring semester, Professor Jason Urban and Leslie Mutchler accompanied a small group of students from the Department of Art and Art History to take part in Semana Santa by designing and creating an eight by twenty-foot Alfombra, or sawdust carpet for the Holy Week processions.

Throughout this ten-day trip, anchored at Casa Herrera, students heard lectures about Semana Santa, the culture and customs of Guatemala, took field-trips to a textile factory, the Capuchinas Convent, and San Juan Comalapa to see hand-painted murals. This time spent together, away from home and typical American creature comforts allowed our students to form long-lasting friendships and gain valuable cultural perspective.

New Fire: University of Texas at Austin's Blog on Mesoamerica News and Research


New Fire is a blog produced by The Mesoamerica Center on current Mesoamerican art and archaeology. This blog will present current archaeology news, projects by graduate students at UT-Austin, and information about resources and projects at the Mesoamerican Center.

The editors of this blog include Elliot Lopez-Finn and Stephanie Strauss, as well as other contributing members of MaGSA, the organization of students at UT-Austin that study Pre-Columbian culture.

Graduate Student Summer Research

Stephanie Strauss in Palenque, Mexico
Stephanie Strauss in Palenque, Mexico

This summer, second year Ph.D. student and Donald D. Harrington Doctoral Fellow Stephanie Strauss, received research grants from the University of Texas at Austin and the Department of Art & Art History to conduct pre-dissertation travel and research throughout Mexico and Guatemala. Stephanie is interested in Mesoamerican writing practices and language ideologies cross-culturally, and her dissertation will focus on the enigmatic Isthmian art and hieroglyphic systems. 


Travel Report: Within Tikal's Reach

Dr. Astrid Runggaldier on the field

This summer a small team, led by Dr. Astrid Runggaldier, set out on a Mesoamerica Center expedition. The group visited several sites in the Tikal region and wanted to locate the settlement of El Zapote, first reported by Ian Graham in 1974.

This pilot study was funded by a research grant from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation through UT’s Lozano Long Institute of Latin American Studies. Its aims were to ground-check the best location and potential for developing a long-term project, provide training and research opportunities for graduate students, and enrich undergraduate courses at UT with original research.

This region has contributed important recent discoveries and developments in Preclassic and Early Classic studies as well as demonstrates the interaction between Maya and Central Mexican peoples.

Mesoamerican Professor awarded National Science Foundation

Dr. Julia Guernsey at La Blanca
Dr. Julia Guernsey at La Blanca

The La Blanca Archaeological Project, whose team includes Julia Guernsey, was awarded a $400,000 National Science Foundation grant to pursue archaeological investigations at the Middle Preclassic (900-600 BC) site located along the Pacific coast of Guatemala.

Dr. Julia Guernsey, Associate Director of the Department of Art and Art History and affiliated faculty of The Mesoamerica Center,  received her Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 1997, and has taught ancient Mesoamerican art and culture history in the Department of Art and Art History at the University of Texas at Austin since 2001.

Her research and publications continue to focus on the Middle and Late Preclassic periods in ancient Mesoamerica, in particular on sculptural expressions of rulership during this time. She participates on the La Blanca Archaeological Project, which is exploring this large site that dominated the Pacific coastal and piedmont region of Guatemala during the Middle Preclassic period.