The Afterlife of the Discovery of a Lifetime: Preservation of the Maya Murals of San Bartolo, Guatemala

Author(s): Angelyn Bass; Heather Hurst

Year: 2019


This is an abstract from the "SAA 2019: General Sessions" session, at the 84th annual meeting of the Society for American Archaeology.

In 2001, rarely preserved Maya murals were discovered at the site of San Bartolo, Guatemala. Subsequent archaeological excavations revealed an elaborate artistic program of wall paintings and numerous hieroglyphic texts buried in successive architectural phases dating from ca. 400-100 B.C. The corpus of paintings found within the Las Pinturas pyramid includes in situ murals and over 7000 fragments from artworks that were intentionally broken into fragments and concealed by the Maya as they dismantled older architecture and built new construction. Today, the in situ mural chamber and the fragment collection have been carefully excavated, stabilized, catalogued, analyzed, and curated; many fragments have been reassembled. These outcomes are the result of a 17-year collaboration between an international team of archaeologists, conservators, artists, engineers, materials scientists, epigraphers, and iconographers. This presentation will detail how archaeology, art, and materials science provide evidence of how the San Bartolo murals were created, used, and cached, followed by a description of the materials and methods used to conserve the paintings. Challenges for ongoing preservation of the murals through establishing protection measures for the site and providing broad access to the fragment collection will be discussed in light of the extremely under-resourced cultural heritage institutions of Guatemala.

Cite this Record

The Afterlife of the Discovery of a Lifetime: Preservation of the Maya Murals of San Bartolo, Guatemala. Angelyn Bass, Heather Hurst. Presented at The 84th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Albuquerque, NM. 2019 ( tDAR id: 449792)

This Resource is Part of the Following Collections

Spatial Coverage

min long: -94.197; min lat: 16.004 ; max long: -86.682; max lat: 21.984 ;

Record Identifiers

Abstract Id(s): 25679