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Maya Yucatán

An Artist's Journey

Phillip Hofstetter

Publication Year: 2010

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.

Published by: University of New Mexico Press


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Title Page, Copyright Page, Dedication

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pp. xi-xiii

I have been blessed with artists in my life, so when I found myself in Palenque with Phil Hofstetter and Don Bright while they filmed a documentary about Merle Greene Robertson, I gave them my best effort. Phil befriended me and showed up at Yaxuná, cameras in tow, ready to go to work. He wanted to create a new kind of record of an...

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Chapter One: The Ancient land

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pp. 1-15

Yucatán—to me the name itself sounded a golden, mythic tone. The picture that springs to mind is an image of tropical forest, bright sun on white beaches, and the churches of colonial times. But at the center of this vision the ancient Maya cities that appear, almost supernaturally, from the deep jungle are the hallmark of the landscape. In that vast limestone plain I learned early in my travels that when I saw a...

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Chapter Two: The Maya in Yucatán

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pp. 16-48

The largest of Maya sacred places are quite easy to see for they are the focal points of Chichén Itzá and Uxmal, the two chief tourist sites of the peninsula (not counting Tulum, the middling Postclassic site close to the resort playas of Cancún). These two large sites are by far the most visited in Yucatán State. In their time they were imperial cities...

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Chapter Three: The Least Earth

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pp. 49-57

All of Yucatán’s history played out upon a special, if not peculiar, geography. This large peninsular region, also known culturally as the Northern Maya Lowlands, is powerfully influenced by the interplay of the waters of the Gulf of Mexico to the west and north and the Caribbean Sea to the east. This peninsula is a great limestone shelf with scarcely a hill in sight for two hundred miles from the east coast...

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Chapter Four: Imagining Maya Ruins

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pp. 58-69

In their ancient cities Maya artists knew well their urban and agricultural landscapes. They designed them to be charged with emotional power and bestowed in them all the social power and ideological atmosphere that public writing and public art can communicate so powerfully. When I visited Maya ruins packed with their ancient emotions, I...

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Chapter Five: The Archaeological Projects

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pp. 70-71

The four archaeological projects with which I had the privilege to work as a videographer and artist were sponsored by North Ameri- can universities and foundations with research permits issued by INAH. The projects are all situated in representative regions of the northern peninsula...

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Chapter Six: The Yaxuná Archaeological Project

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pp. 72-91

In May 1991, I took up David Freidel’s invitation to visit his archaeology project at Yaxuná. It was my second visit to Yucatán, so I was getting used to the topes, the speed bumps that every village puts in the street to slow down traffic. This was in the days before the four-lane toll highway, the supercarretera, sped across the countryside, and the only road across the peninsula was the old, dangerously narrow two...

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Chapter Seven: The Pakbeh regional economy Project at Chunchucmil

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pp. 92-99

My involvement with the archaeologists of Chunchucmil grew out of my time at the Yaxuná Project. Two of the Yaxuná team, Traci Ardren and Travis Stanton, went on to work at the Pakbeh Regional Economy Project, located on the ruins of Chunchucmil, and I trailed them to this western Yucatán site.1...

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Chapter Eight: The Kiuic Archaeological Project

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pp. 100-113

had finally found my beautiful hills in Yucatán. The ancient city and the modern archaeological project of Kiuic is located in an uninhabited region of the Puuc Sierra, a low range of hills stretching from Maxcanú, an important modern Maya town in the northwest, down one hundred miles to its anchor at Peto, another historic Maya town to the southeast. Kiuic is nestled into this hilly region, and at the same...

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Chapter Nine The Xuenkal Archaeological Project

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pp. 114-121

During the summer 2005 field season I finally made it to the Xuenkal Project, which was in its second season. Traci Ardren and Kam Manahan, old friends from the Yaxuná Project, began this research project in 2004 with surveys, mapping, and test pits, the usual first steps in any excavation design...

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Chapter Ten: Maya Yucatán

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pp. 122-131

Late one night at the Yaxuná field camp I heard a strange throbbing sound coming from the far fields. An eerie sound, it seemed like great water engines at work, a deep rhythm in the night. It seemed so electronic, this phasing of the frequencies. For some time I tried to analyze the unearthly sound, but this one fantasy kept sticking in my head: this was the undulation of a space-alien gravity ship, resting in the fields...

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pp. 132-140

For the Spanish the Maya were the most difficult Native Americans to subdue. It required almost two hundred years before the last of the Maya kingdoms (the Petén Itzá at Tayasal) was conquered, and not until 1901 did the final, die-hard Maya forces lay down their weapons of the Caste War.1 In large ways and small they are still not completely reconciled. The 1994 New Year’s Day uprising of the Zapatistas in...


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pp. 141-146

Back Cover

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E-ISBN-13: 9780826346964
E-ISBN-10: 0826346960
Print-ISBN-13: 9780826346940
Print-ISBN-10: 0826346944

Page Count: 160
Illustrations: 102 color and black-and-white photographs, 1 drawing, 2 maps
Publication Year: 2010

OCLC Number: 773584665
MUSE Marc Record: Download for Maya Yucatán

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Subject Headings

  • Excavations (Archaeology) -- Mexico -- Yucatán (State).
  • Yucatán (Mexico : State) -- Pictorial works.
  • Yucatán (Mexico : State).
  • Mexico -- Antiquities -- Pictorial works.
  • Mexico -- Antiquities.
  • Yucatán (Mexico : State) -- Antiquities -- Pictorial works.
  • Yucatán (Mexico : State) -- Antiquities.
  • Mayas -- Antiquities.
  • Mayas -- Antiquities -- Pictorial works.
  • Hofstetter, Phillip, 1949- -- Travel -- Mexico -- Yucatán (State).
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