For Emily Chung, who has always been a patient and supportive partner in my endeavors even when they have taken me far from her.
Unaahil B’aak would not exist had it not been for Dan Schnaidt's suggestion that we create a learning object focusing on the art and architecture of the Maya. In our initial conceptualization of this website we intended to construct a 3-D environment using Adobe Atmosphere that would allow the user to explore architecture in a more natural way than is normally permitted by books or slide lectures alone. In the Spring of 2004, we decided that we would focus on the ancient city of Palenque, and in particular on the Group of the Cross. We did this because, while commonly illustrated in introductory art history and archaeology textbooks, and featured on television "documentaries," much of the available popular information on Palenque presents a superficial and essentialized picture of Maya culture. In-depth iconographic analysis of sculpture and translations of Palenque's Hieroglyphic texts by contrast are often limited to specialist circles, with some notable exceptions. We wanted to bridge the gap between professional and non-specialist communities and also to provide a tool for those who would like to have more online resources for teaching Maya art and culture.
In the Summer of 2004, Anne Loyer and I headed out on a long bus ride from Merida to Palenque and spent the better part of a week photographing the site. Even with well over a thousand photographs there are still many objects and shots that we now wish we had. Nevertheless, we returned with enough material to illustrate not only the Cross Group, but also a number of other areas of the site including, in particular, the Palace and the North Group. While at Palenque we met with Ed Barnhart, Christopher Powell, Alonso Mendez, Kirk French, Julia Miller, and Steve Siemer who generously shared with us their intimate knowledge of the site. Special thanks are due to Ed who allowed us to use his wonderfully detailed map of the ruins as the basis for the interactive map presented on this website. We have spent much of the last two years working to bring this information together into a form that is informative and intuitively designed.
Over the last three years much of my research, writing, and teaching have been directly related to the material presented on this website. Many sections in some form or another have been presented at professional conferences or appear in my dissertation. In repackaging this material for this website, I have tired to keep in mind the need to present specialist issues so that they have relevance to a wider audience. Ultimately, if scholarly work reveals something about the human condition in all its permutations than it is critically important, perhaps now more so than ever, that there be a productive dialogue between academia and the public. Maya art and culture, to be sure, are topics intrinsically interesting and important in their own right, but I have also always tried to convey to my students the fact that the artistic, theological, and political problems that the Maya dealt with are not so very different from those that confront us today. A brief look at the complex issues surrounding religion and politics at the global and national levels clearly makes evident the need to study history and cultures other than our own. In my teaching I have tried to instruct on ways of approaching and questioning the material rather than simply passing on a set of known "facts." Above all, I hope that this emphasis on the way that knowledge is created comes through across these pages of electrons.
Without the dedicated work of William A. Gladstone, Luis Miguel Henao, Wolasi Kofi Konu, Allynn Wilkinson and a number of others this website would not have been possible. Wolasi Kofi Konu and Anne Loyer have made the website not only informative but aesthetically compelling and, I think, a work of art in itself. Without the generosity of Justin Kerr and the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI) the site would lack the beautiful rollout photographs of Classic Maya Vases and Linda Schele's fine drawings of sculptures that are, unfortunately, not always so clear in the original. We were inspired by their example of freely providing information and we hope that we have managed to live up to their high standards. Material support for this project was kindly provided by the Learning Objects program at Wesleyan University, and through a grant from Adobe Systems, Inc and the New Media Consortium (NMC). We sincerely thank them for their assistance and commitment to the use of new technologies in education.
The discussion and analysis of Palenque's art, architecture, and epigraphy provided on Unaahil B’aak would not have been possible without the mentoring and support of the late Linda Schele, who first encouraged me to work on the incensarios excavated from the Cross Group. Nikolai Grube has always shared his many epigraphic insights and lent a critical yet supportive eye to my attempts at translation. Julia Guernsey has read over much of the material presented here, though in a different form, and saved me from many embarrassing misstatements. In addition to their help and inspiration, I have benefited especially from the patient and kind help and collaboration of Robert Wald, Kerry Hull, and Brian Stross. They have greatly expanded my understanding of Mayan linguistics and epigraphy. The translations presented on this website would not have been possible without them. Over the years, I have also benefited from discussions with Karen Bassie, Erik Boot, Allen Christenson, Virginia Fields, Arnoldo González, Nick Hopkins, Kathryn Josserand, John Justeson, Terry Kaufman, Peter Keeler, Hutch Kinsman, Barbara Macleod, Alfonso Morales, Simon Martin, Joel Skidmore, Penny Steinbach, Mark Van Stone, David Stuart, Søren Wichmann, and Marc Zender. Needless-to-say, all of the mistakes and errors that I am sure have found their way onto this site are my own. Finally, Emily and our four-legged baby, Isis, have kept me moderately sane during the development of this website and through the completion of my dissertation.
For questions or comments about the site's content contact Michael Carrasco
For technical questions contact firstname.lastname@example.org
Michael D. Carrasco received his B.A. from Wesleyan University in Archaeology and his M.A. and Ph.D.
in Art History from the University of Texas, Austin. From 2003-2006 he was
the Luther Gregg Sullivan Visiting Scholar in Art History, in the Art and Art History
Department at Wesleyan University. He has conducted field research in Guatemala, Honduras, and Mexico and has worked most recently with the University of North Carolina and Duke Summer Yucatec Program and the Municipality of Santa Elena, Yucatan, Mexico on their community museum. Michael's areas of specialization include the art
history of Mesoamerica, Mayan epigraphy, and Yucatec Mayan. He has taught courses on Mayan epigraphy for Wesleyan University,
the UNC-Duke Summer Yucatec Program, and at the Maya Meetings at the University of Texas, Austin.
His current research focuses on ritual art and animacy in Mesoamerica and the poetics of
Kerry M. Hull has a B.A. in French, a B.A. in Spanish, a M.S. in Applied Linguistics (Georgetown University), and a Ph.D. in Anthropology (University of Texas at Austin). He is currently an Assistant Professor in the College of Foreign Studies at Reitaku University, Japan. His research interests are Ch'orti' Maya culture and language, Mayan epigraphy, historical linguistics, verbal art, performance, and language documentation. He specializes in Ch'orti' Maya studies and has written a tri-lingual dictionary of Ch'orti' -Spanish - English and is currently working on a larger dictionary project.
Robert Wald, Anthropology Department, University of Texas, Austin
Anne Loyer: Art Direction
Dan Schnaidt: Project Management
Wolasi Kofi Konu: Art Direction, Site design, PHP, Map design, Flash
Luis Miguel Henao: 3-D reconstruction of temples in Maya, 3D fly-throughs
Will Gladstone: Programming
Steve Bischof: GIS relief map
Colin Theys: 3-D modeling
Mathew Waukohnen: 3-D modeling
Emily Klasson: 3-D modeling
Philip Shulze: 3-D model textures