Maya 2012 - From Copan to Penn

Posts tagged Archeology

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Rosa: Introduction

Hello! My name is Rosa De Armas and I am Master’s student in the History of Art department at Penn. Working in the exhibition Maya 2012: Lords of Time is an exciting opportunity that will let me increase my training in museums, while also learning more about Maya civilization.   

The exhibition will focus on the speculation of the end of times, an idea that derives from the completion of the Maya calendrical cycle. It will introduce visitors to Maya culture and their views of time, connecting past events with contemporary ones.

At the moment I am in Copan assisting curator Loa Traxler with the phodocumentation of the objects that will be taken to Philadelphia, to be exhibited in May at the Penn Museum.  In the next days we will immerse more deeply in the world of the Maya by working with objects excavated from royal tombs by the Penn Museum. Get ready to get a glimpse of our experience in Copan and learn more about the Maya. 

Filed under Archeology Copan Cultural Heritage Site Honduras Ruins Rosa

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Emily: The Ruins

Yesterday we spent the day exploring the ruins of Copan and the Museum of Sculpture. The experience was particularly rewarding because Loa Traxler, the curator of the exhibition, provided us with information about the monuments’ iconography, restorations, and history. It became clear that it was incredibly difficult for me to know exactly what I was looking at because throughout the day Loa provided us with insights that were far from apparent and radically shifted the way I would have experienced the acropolis otherwise.

A number of the temples had significant restorations that one might mistake for their withstanding time. In contrast, there were also some mounds of stones that looked like refuse piles, though they were actually untouched remains. It was the first time I was challenged to visualize a grand structure based solely upon its fallen walls. I was engaged in a lively inner monologue about whether I was more affected by restored structures that somewhat resembled their original forms or remains that attested truthfully to their age, weathering, and collapse.

The ball court was particularly and inexplicably monumental. It was grand yet unassuming with two parallel slopes, simple sculptures, and remnants of markers used in the games themselves. I try to make sense of civilization long past while confronting the severe limitations of such a feat. The ball court and the ruins in general were quite thought-provoking and completely overwhelming.  The importance and visibility of the structures persisted in the basic forms and scale.

Loa took us through the tunnels under the acropolis and explained how structures from earlier rulers had been covered up and used as a foundation for new buildings. From the exterior there was no indication that these earlier structures existed, which made seeing hints of them along the path rather surprising. It was a more-than-meets-the-eye experience that was wonderful in its frustrating and baffling complexity.

Filed under Archeology Cultural Heritage Emily Honduras Maya Copan