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Maya Gods and Kings
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Learn More
In Learn More the National Geographic magazine team shares some of its best sources and other information to expand your knowledge of our featured subjects. Special thanks to the Research Division.

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 Did You Know?  
 Related Links  
 NGS Resources  

Did You Know?Did You Know?

Project director Bill Saturno and project artist Heather Hurst stumbled on a new way to document the mural that revolutionized how they work.
Originally Bill brought his laptop and Epson scanner into the field because he thought it would be "cool" to scan the fallen fragments and then put them back together on the computer like a puzzle. That would spare the pieces from being handled extensively, necessary if the team had tried to fit the actual fragments together.
But Bill and Heather faced another challenge: taking decent photographs of the murals. There were numerous problems with standard photography: keeping the camera a constant distance from the surface; preventing the heat of the camera's lights from damaging the mural; and photographing parts of it from oblique angles.
In a eureka moment, Bill put his flatbed scanner to the wall and made a beautiful, clean 8.5x11-inch scan. Because the scanner was compact, was a fixed distance from the mural, and had its own light source and no heat, this was an ideal solution.
The quality of the images impressed them: The scans are 400 dpi, 40 megabyte images. Bill can't think of any other comparable ancient works of art with such a detailed digital replica. And they allowed Heather to make short work of producing a scaled-down reconstruction of the artwork. The project would ordinarily have taken two or three years, but she was done in months. Once Bill scanned a section of the mural, he stitched the images together. Then Heather reduced them by 50 percent, printed and traced them, and refined the images by comparing them to the original scans.
—Taryn L. Salinas

Related Links

San Bartolo Project
The official website of the San Bartolo project contains information about the discovery and interpretation of the site. It also describes the long-term conservation efforts.
Los Angeles County Museum of Art: Lords of Creation
The "Lords of Creation" exhibit explores the development of divine kingship and its roles in the emergence of a complex urban society 2,000 years ago in the Maya region. The online exhibit outlines the themes and features a brief movie.
This comprehensive website explores the world of Mesoamerican art, architecture, deities, and hieroglyphic writing, and, for visitors to the Maya region, offers tips on how to document the antiquities with the latest digital photography.


Freidel, David, Linda Schele, and Joy Parker. Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman's Path. William Morrow and Company, 1993.
Martin, Simon, and Nikolai Grube. Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya. Thames and Hudson, 2000.
Miller, Mary, and Karl Taube. The Gods and Symbols of Ancient Mexico and the Maya: An Illustrated Dictionary of Mesoamerican Religion. Thames and Hudson, 1993.

NGS Resources

Robert, David. "Descent into the Maya Underworld." National Geographic (November 2004), 36-53.
Tarpy, Cliff. "Place of the Standing Stones: Unearthing a King From the Dawn of the Maya." National Geographic (May 2004), 66-79.

Kaufmann, Carol. "Sistine Chapel of the Early Maya." National Geographic (December 2003), 72-7. 

Vesilind, Priit J. "Watery Graves of the Maya." National Geographic (October 2003), 82-101.
Zackowitz, Margaret G. "Royal City of the Maya." National Geographic (August 2003), 96-9.
Tourtellot, Jonathan B. "Major Move in Maya Land." National Geographic Traveler (May/June 2003), 42, 44.  
Inomata, Takeshi. "Aguateca: New Revelations of the Maya Elite."  National Geographic (May 2003), 110-19.
Stuart, George E. "Yucatán's Mysterious Hill Cities." National Geographic (April 2002), 54-69.
Stuart, George E. "Maya Heartland Under Siege." National Geographic (November 1992), 94-107.
Agurcia Fasquelle, Ricardo, and William L. Fash, Jr. "Maya Artistry Unearthed." National Geographic (September 1991), 94-105.
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