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.
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.
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.
The Mesoamerica Center congratulates Dr. Julia Guernsey, affiliated faculty of our center, for the Outstanding Teaching Award. The award's program is one of the nation’s largest monetary teaching recognition programs in higher education, honoring outstanding performance in the classroom and dedication to innovation in undergraduate instruction.
This spring, The Mesoamerica Center brought students to Casa Herrera for their study abroad semester for the third year. This satellite campus provides a teaching and research center in the colonial city of Antigua, Guatemala.
The study abroad program is open to all majors and focuses on ancient and contemporary culture in Guatemala and Belize, giving students a fully immersive and interactive experience at ancient Maya sites, national and local museums, archaeological laboratories, and contemporary Maya villages.
The Mesoamerica Center faculty lead for the program, Dr. Astrid Runggaldier, teaches courses in Antigua and oversees the curriculum, field trips, invited speakers, and special projects.
In 1978, this 56-page booklet, the original “notebook” for the Maya Hieroglyphic Writing Workshop at Texas, was handed out to all participants and contained Linda Schele’s detailed transcriptions of selected hieroglyphic tablets from Palenque, Mexico.
This initial gathering, held over a chilly spring break in Austin, was the distant ancestor of the current Maya Meetings and has been held annually ever since.
I hope you will take a little time to read about some of the many exciting developments in Mesoamerican research now happening at The University of Texas at Austin.
Among many other activities, The Mesoamerica Center, housed in the Department of Art and Art History, oversees the planning and operation of two major undertakings: The Maya Meetings and Casa Herrera.
The annual Maya Meetings, now in its 37th year, brings scholars, students, and all types of interested people together to share the latest discoveries in Maya art, archaeology, and decipherment (back in 1978 it was called the “Maya Hieroglyphic Writing Workshop” –see From the Archives). It remains one of the preeminent conferences in Maya studies, and our next meeting will take place in January, here in Austin. We will focus on the theme of sacrifice and ritual and keep you updated on The 2015 Maya Meetings website.
Casa Herrera, our beautiful research and learning center in Antigua, Guatemala, is home to a number of academic programs, seminars, lectures and residential scholars. Casa Herrera will continue to play a key role in forging communication and dialogue between the researchers in Central America and Texas, especially in these times when in-person connections and understanding are so vitally important.
Lucia Henderson has received the Sylvan C. Coleman and Pamela Coleman Memorial Fund Fellowship at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City. Dr. Henderson will be conducting focused research on the museum’s Maya collection, which is housed in the Department of Arts of Africa, Oceania, and the Americas.
Lucia Henderson received her Ph.D from the University of Texas at Austin in 2013. Her dissertation provides the first illustrated catalog and comprehensive analysis of the sculptures of the Late Preclassic Maya site of Kaminaljuyú, Guatemala. Lucia holds an MA in art history from UC San Diego, a BA in anthropology from Harvard University, and is a trained archaeological illustrator. Lucia has published on a diverse range of topics, cultures, and time periods, from stone sculpture to cave art, hydraulic systems, and volcano imagery, and from the Late Preclassic Maya to the Postclassic Aztecs and the American Southwest.