Welcome to sci.archaeology.mesoamerican

  1. Introduction
  2. Charter

  3. Posting articles to this newsgroup via email

  4. Reading this newsgroup via the web

  5. Related Newsgroups

  6. Listservers

  7. FTP, Gopher, WWW sites

  8. How to get on archaeological digs

  9. Journals about Archaeology and Computers

  10. List of useful Books

  11. The infamous "Maya" Crystal skull

  12. The end of the world as seen by the Maya in AD. 2012

  13. Earliest ceramics in the New World.

  14. What about diffusion?

  15. How to react to SPAMs and other unwanted posts

Events ∓ Announcements will be posted separately.

Calendar converter software (Maya/Aztec) is available for downloading from various FTP/WWW sites (see point 7).


This is a semi-regular posting to the unmoderated newsgroup sci.archaeology.mesoamerican. The main aim of this newsgroup is to provide an open, easily accessible, electronic conferencing system or bulletin board for the "mesoamerican" community on the internet.

Newsgroups (in theory) allow queries and discussion to take place in days to weeks, that would take months to years (or not at all) on conventional paper or in journals. Opportunities for informal discussion and exchange of information and opinions that might only occur at international conferences can routinely take place on USENET newsgroups.

Participants are welcome and encouraged to browse, read, follow-on, post, and use this newsgroup as an information server, discussion area and electronic conferencing system to its maximum advantage. Being an unmoderated newsgroup, no one owns or runs this newsgroup so. Thus participants should feel uninhibited to freely use this discussion forum.


Topics for discussion could include :

Announcements of new excavations/discoveries/interpretations.

Cultures covered include, but are not limited to:

In addition, North American and South American Precolumbian Cultures re also included here, until perhaps at some future point the volume f messages would warrent a split into a different newgroup. I.e.:

Other suitable topics include:


It is possible to post to and read this newsgroup via the WWW using DEJANEWS at: http://www.dejanews.com/



AZTLAN -- Mesoamerican studies

AZTLAN is THE listserver for Pre-columbian archaeology, with many serious scholars participating.

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Web pages have sprung up all over the place, there are now hundreds of pages. A small selection is provided here as entry points. Thus, the list below will not be updated to show all possible sites (i.e., links).

Check out the following WWW sites for large lists of links:

Some other FTP, GOPHER and WWW sites:


ftp.cit.cornell.edu /pub/special/NativeProfs

Native American information (not exclusively), digests from soc.culture.native


Acadame This Week (Chronicle of Higher Education; new issue every Tuesday at noon; extensive digest, includes articles, listings of jobs conferences, grants, etc.)

Server: chronicle.merit.edu

ANTHAP (Applied Anthropology Computer Network) archives

Server: gopher.acs.oakland.edu; select `Applied Anthropology Computer Network'.

Anthropology information

Server: toto.ycc.yale.edu 7000 select `Archaeology Academics' from the phone book.

Server: uniwa.uwa.edu.au; select `Departmental', then `people with a common interest'

Archaeology information/software
Server: ftp.tex.ac.uk; select item 4 (Archaeology) contains pointers to yale (see above)
Some of this network information is courtesy of:
FAQ: Anthropology Resources on the Internet

Compiled by: Allen H. Lutins (al2032@thor.albany.edu)


Archaeological Fieldwork Opportunities Bulletin (AFOB)
Published by Archaeological Institute of America
Order from Kendall/Hunt Publishing Company,
4050 Westmark Drive, Order Department, Dubuque, IA 52002
$9 AIA members, $11 non-members; Shipping ∓ Handling $4 for first copy, 50 cents for additional copies in same shipment
Contact AIA directly at Boston University, 656 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02215-2010; (617) 353-9361; email: AIA@acs.bu.edu

Passports in Time. A National Forest Service program.
Passport In Time Clearinghouse
PO Box 31315
Tucson, AZ 85751-1315
Passport in Time

Ontario Archaeological Society (Passport to the Past)
Contact: OAS, 126 Willowdale Avenue, Willowdale, Ontario,
Canada, M2N 4Y2
(416) 730-0797

Earthwatch. Expensive volunteer work in the U.S. and overseas

Check in the back of "ARCHAEOLOGY" journal (newstands)

Biblical Archaeology Review
Publishes a yearly list of archaeological opportunities.
Also, check out some of the links on the WWW sites, various opportunities are now posted on the WWW.
Current Archaeology Magazine's Listings for UK digs
Council for British Archaeology Listings for UK Digs

University of Pennsylvania's listings

Fieldwork Opportunities from Archaeology on the Net


MEXICON is an English language publication from Germany on Middle American archaeology and iconography.
Published 6 times yearly, the cost is $35 per calendar year.
Our USA office is:
Maya Research Program,
St. Mary's University, PO box 15376,
San Antonio, Texas 78212.
Seminar fuer Voelkerkunde
Roemerstrasse 164
D-5300 Bonn 1
Thomas H. Guderjan guderjan@NETXPRESS.COM
Subscription Service
P.O. Box 420423
Palm Coast, FL 32142-0423,
19.97$ per volume (6 issue a year)
check out the web site: MEXICON

Ancient Mesoamerica .
Subscription 29 UK pounds per year (two issues).
Subscription Office:
Cambridge University Press
The Edinburgh Building
Shaftesbury Road
Cambridge CB2 2RU

Cambridge University Press
40 W. 20th St.
New York, N.Y. 10011

Arqueologia Mexicana ( Spanish)
International Subscription US$ 40.00$ (North America),
6 issues 47.00$ (Europe/South America)
54.00$ (elsewhere)
S.A. de C.V.
Av. Taxquena 1798
Mexico 04250-69 D.F.

Archaeology and Computers :
Archaeological Computing Newsletter

The Institute of Archaeology
36 Beaumont Street
Oxford OX1 2PG
United Kingdom
e-mail: glock@vax.ox.ac.uk

A more detailed listing of some of these and other related books can be found at:
T. Douglas Price and Gary M.Feinman, (1992)
General World Prehistory: Images of the Past.

Coe, Michael D. (1994)
Mexico. From the Olmecs to the Aztecs

Townsend, Richard F. (1992)
The Aztecs

Matos Moctezuma, Eduardo (1992)
Piedra del Sol. Calendario Azteca. INAH, Mexico. (137pp)
- Info on the Aztec calendar stone, also in English

Berrin, Kathleen, and Pasztory, Esther (1993)
Teotihuacan. Art from the City of the Gods
- Great pictures

Ferguson, William M., Rohn, Arthur H., Royce, John Q. (1990)
Mesoamerica's Ancient Cities
- Nice aerial views of sites

Scarborough, Vernon L., and Wilcox, David R., eds. (1991)
The Mesoamerican Ballgame.

Richard E. Blanton, Stephen A. Kowalewski, Gary
M. Feinman and Laura M. Finsten. (1993)
General Mesoamerica: Ancient Mesoamerica: A Comparison of Change in Three
Regions, Second Edition.

Jeremy A.Sabloff. (1989)
The Cities of Ancient Mexico: Reconstructing a Lost World.

Guthrie, Jill (ed.) 1995
The Olmec World : Ritual and Rulership
- Exhibition Catalogue, excellent pictures

Benson, Elizabeth P, and de la Fuente, Beatriz, ed. (1996)
Olmec Art of Ancient Mexico
- another nice book


Stuart, Gene, S., and Stuart, George, E. (1993)
Lost Kingdoms of the Maya. National Geographic Book
- Great pictures

Coe, Michael D. (1993)
The Maya

Sharer, Robert J. (1994)
The Ancient Maya. Fifth edition.

Mercedes de la Garza and about 20 other eminent Maya specialists (1998)
The Maya
- exhibition catalogue from Venice, very nice

Schele, Linda, and Freidel, David (1990)
A Forest of Kings. The Untold Story of the Ancient Maya
- a must

Schele, Linda, and Miller, Mary Ellen (1986)
The Blood of Kings. Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art
- Great Pictures, a must

Freidel, David, Schele, Linda, and Parker, Joy (1993)
Maya Cosmos. Three Thousand Years on the Shaman's Path

Linda Schele, Peter Mathews, Justin Kerr (1998)
The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs

Jeremy A. Sabloff (1990)
The New Archaeology and the Ancient Maya.

Reents-Budet, Dorie (1994)
Painting the Maya Universe: Royal Ceramics of the Classic Period
- Great Pictures

Michael D. Coe, Justin Kerr (1998)
The Art of the Maya Scribe
- A nice coffee table book

Maya Writing

Coe, Michael D. (1992)
Breaking the Maya Code

Harris, John F., and Stearns, Stephen K. (1992)
Understanding Maya Inscriptions
- Introduction to Maya hieroglyphic writing.

Harris, John F. (1993)
A Supplement to Understanding Maya Inscriptions

Harris, John F. (1994)
A Resource Bibliography for the Decipherment of Maya
- Hieroglyphics and New Maya Hieroglyphic Readings

Jones, Tom, and Carolyn (1994) (updated yearly)
1994 HSU Maya Hieroglyphic Workshop Notebook

Postclassic/Colonial Maya
Tedlock, Dennis (1985)
Popol Vuh. The Definitive Edition of the Mayan Book of the Dawn of
- Life and the Glories of Gods and Kings

Reed, Nelson (1964)
The Caste War of Yucatan
- still in print, "the" book on the Caste War

Tedlock, Barbara (1992)
Time and the Highland Maya

North America

Ferguson, William M., and Rohn, Arthur H. (1987)
Anasazi Ruins of the Southwest in Color
- Nice Pictures of sites

David Grant Noble (1991)
Ancient Ruins of the Southwest. Northland Publishing; Flagstaff, AZ

Pike, Donald G. (1974) ANASAZI : Ancient People of the Rock
Harmony Books, New York, NY

South America
Moseley, Michael E. (1992)
The Incas and their Ancestors. The Archaeology of Peru

Burger, Richard L. (1992)
Chavin and the Origins of Andean Civilization

Donnan, Christopher B. (1978)
Moche Art of Peru. Pre-Columbian Symbolic Communication

Alva, Walter, and Donnan, Christopher B. (1993)
Royal Tombs of Sipan
- Great Pictures, exhibition catalogue


It was allegedly found at Lubaantun in the 1920's by a British explorer/adventurer, named F.A. Mitchell-Hedges and his daughter. Mitchell Hedges was a contemporary of Thomas Gann, and I believe they both "explored" Lubaantun at the same time. Gann (in several books) provides some interesting accounts of the early days of exploring and "excavating" in Belize, while Norman Hammond did some excavation and published a report on Lubaantun during the mid 1970s. I think Hammond's book was called "Lubaantun: An Ancient Maya Realm", but I'm not sure. It was published by Harvard. I don't think Hammond makes any mention of crystal skulls. There are other "crystal skulls" from Mesoamerica, but as far as I know, they are usually Postclassic in date.

The Mitchell-Hedges skull is in possession of Anna Mitchell-Hedges (the step-daughter) in Ontario, Canada, last I heard.
There is at least one other one in the British Museum. It was at the Museum of Man(kind?) nr. Picadilly, an offshoot of the BM that handles `anthropological' cultures, when I was last in London (ca. 2yrs ago), amid their small mesoamerican display. It is labelled as Aztec.
A documentary by the German TV from 1982 examined the skull. Examination of the polishing technique suggests that this was done with the help of a spinning wheel, something not known in America. Crystal working has been practiced in 16th and 17th century Europe, and while no skulls are known, crystal balls for magical purposes are known. The interpretation would be that the skull came from such a source. Why is there no historical documentation of the skull?

Actually, virtually none of the 16th-17th century crystal pieces can be traced back to the artists. Seems like nobody cared to document this. Mitchell-Hedges in a letter from 1945 states that he doesn't want to reveal the source of the skull, so it could come from anywhere.
Note: see also the info on east german crystal works below.

Info from: Grant Aylesworth, Carlos May, Alan Prince, Thomas Burglin
Five of these 'skulls' are being discussed on the BBC television programme Everyman, to be broadcast Sunday night, 26th May 1996, 10:50-11:40 pm. Three of them are privately owned, the other two are from the Smithsonian and London's Museum of Mankind. The programme notes suggest that someone from the British Museum will be commenting on their origin.
Doug Weller Moderator, sci.archaeology.moderated
Brief summary:
There was a lot of New Age stuff about 'energies' and 'channeling', but the salient points were that none of the crystal skulls can be traced before the end of the last century, none was found in an archeological site, and about the same time a village in Eastern Germany started producing impressive carved crystal, which was often sold without any clue to its provenance. The British Museum laboratory tested two of the skulls (their own and one other) under a microscope and showed that the striations produced by polishing were extremely regular, characteristic
of machine-work instead of hand-polishing.
John Ritson <john@jritson.demon.co.uk>

About F.A. Mitchell-Hedges:
"Yes, he liked to fish. But, I believe it was his "step-daughter" who found the skull, as they were packing up, about to leave the site. I met her once in '86. Paid $10.US to see the skull at a flea market type gathering of "pyramid people". Interesting piece but clearly not Mayan. She said it came from outerspace, was kept at Alantis then brought to Belize for safekeeping. doo da, doo da"
Bill@bbs.voy-ager.com (Bill Leonard)

Vis-a-vis the crystal skulls I would like to mention two points:
1) Due to political-cultural machinations on the part of the last sexennial, Mexican artifacts now no longer are to be seen in the Museum of Mankind, the anthropological section of the British Museum. The Mexican Government has funded a sala in the British Museum itself, where I imagine (not having visited the BM recently) the crystal skull and other well-known Mesoamerican artifacts are now on display. An interesting manoeuvre in terms of cultural politics.
2) The crystal skull figured in an excellent major exhibition held around 10 years ago in the British Museum entitled "Fakes".
Jessica Johnson


It is based on the Mayan long count calendar, by virtue of which the current creation began on a day 4 Ahau 8 Kumk'u, which fell according to the 584285 correlation counter on August 13, 3114 BC.
According to the Mayan view, every time we reach, there is a new creation. The next time is on 4 Ahau 3 K'ank'in, which is December 23, 2012.
- Brian Ampolsk

However, this date is not the end of the world either:
"The Maya, however,did not conceive this to be the end of this creation, as many have suggested"
(Schele and Freidel, Forest of Kings).


Anna Roosevelt's work in the South America has shown that Valdivia ceramics is no longer the earliest known in the New World. Around Tapajos, she found ceramics dating back to 5000 b.c. Given their location (towards the center of Amazonia), rather than being located on the west coast strongly argues against an old world origin for these ceramics.
Info from Jeff Baker
Recent reference:
Barnett, W.K., and J.W. Hoopes
1995 The Emergence of Pottery: Technology and Innovation in Ancient
Societies. Smithsonian Institution Press, Washington, D.C.


All evidence so far indicates that America was populated from Asia, and there were probably several waves coming through the NorthWest, with firmly established dates of perhaps 12'000 BC, although earlier dates (e.g, up to 30'000 BC) might be possible.

There is no doubt that Christopher Columbus was not the first in America, certainly the Vikings were there before. However, many of the other so called "proofs" for contacts of Egyptians, Romans, Phoenicians, etc. in America have so far not been corroborated by any solid evidence, a lot of these proofs are fakes or have other explanations (see below for book references). That oceanic crosses are possible, even on surfboards, has been amply proven (most notably by Thor Heyerdahl), but in the absence of real, properly documented, archeological evidence of artefacts stemming from "Egypt" (or insert your favorite culture here), all such discussion is currently idle speculation. There are plenty of spectacular discoveries in Pre-Columbian archaelogy that reshape Archeological theories, and no Archeologist has any interest in supressing any information, because the more spectacular his find, the more fame he will get, and the more financial support he can attract for further digs.

Suggested reading from John Hoopes:
" For those interested in things like runestones, Phoenicean inscriptions, Roman coins in the New World, and other such stuff, I'd like to recommend a superb book:
"Fantastic Archaeology: A Walk on the Wild Side of North American Prehistory",
by Stephen J. Williams.
paperback: ISBN: 0812213122, 17.95$
Prof. Williams, who recently retired as the Frederick Ward Putnam Professor of North American Archaeology at Harvard University, was an expert on the history of archaeology in the U.S. during the 19th century. He devoted several years to compiling detailed information on the scientific and not-so-scientific investigation of phenomena such as the Cardiff Giant, the Walam Olum tablets, the Grave Creek tablet, the Holley Oak Gorget, the Kensington Runestone, and even Joseph Smith's golden plates (the Book of Mormon). His book is a delightful romp through history, and should be required reading for ALL archaeologists--amateur and otherwise."

Another good recommended book:
"Lost Tribes and Sunken Continents," by Robert Wauchope.

Doug Weller adds:
Another excellent book, now in its third edition, is Kenneth Feder's Frauds, Myths and Mysteries, Mayfield Prss, 1998.)

A Mesoamerican Archaeology WWW Page - Has a section on unsubstantiated claims of Pre-Columbian transoceanic contacts, with some arguments against.


Should any post with topics not relating to this newsgroup come up, in particular also SPAMs, pyramid money schemes etc., ( i.e., messages that get posted across many newsgroups simultanously and have nothing to do with the newsgroups), please do NOT propagate such threads by following up on them.

Simply ignore the message. Do not followup on the newsgroup, in particular if it is an item that is crossposted across many newsgroups!
Some questions are posed by people new to the field, so please do not flame them. If you think they are silly questions, which are answered by any standard textbook in the bookstore, just give them a pointer in the right direction.
Especially for introductory books on Pre-Columbian topics there is a list of books in this FAQ.
In case of a SPAM, it is usually not recommended to reply at all, even not by email, since often the headers are forged and the reply goes to an innocent person, whose mailbox will overflow with flames.


To make this post more useful, I would like to request that people who have helpful information that could be included here send an email message to:
Return to Doug's archaeology site