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Morley also conducted espionage in Mexico on behalf of the United States during World War I, but the scope of those activities only came to light well after his death.

In December the board announced it was seeking proposals for an appropriate project; three morleh were submitted, including one from Morley to explore and excavate Chichen Itza. The name chich’en itza in modern Yukatek orthography means roughly “mouth of the well of the Itza “, the “well” being the nearby Sacred Cenote water-filled sinkhole and “Itza” being the name of the people who were reputed to be its maaya inhabitants.

Quotation as cited in Coep.

Morrisartists Ann Axtel Morris and Jean Charlotand several others began their first explorations. From the late s through to perhaps the mids, the reconstruction of ancient Maya society and history pieced together by Morley, Thompson and others constituted sylvanu “standard” interpretation against which competing views had to be measured. Mogley quality of her reconstructive panorama drawings depicting what the site “might have looked like” when in use so impressed Morley that he determined to enroll her onto the Carnegie staff.

How long ago the site had been functionally abandoned not including the ongoing presence of local Maya farmers was not immediately apparent, although it appeared to have been recently, in comparison with the seemingly older abandoned sites of the central and southern Maya region. These documents purported to be contemporary accounts written around the 17th century, which had been “discovered” in the midth century.

Catalog Record: La civilización maya | Hathi Trust Digital Library

Thompson had studied Morley’s work and from that taught himself Maya calendricswhich were a particular passion for Morley. He supposed that the Maya writing system was one based chiefly upon ideographic or pictographic principles, and that if present any elements of phoneticism would always be “overshadow[ed]” by the ideographic meaning assigned to each glyph. Morley gave Merriam a tour of the area he believed would be best for excavation and restoration, a mound complex then known as the Group of One Thousand Columns which included the Temple of Warriors.


He wrote a popular series of articles about the Maya and various Maya sites in the National Geographic Magazine. The evidence indicated that the site had been inhabited since at least the mid-Classic, but that a particular florescence had occurred in the Post-Classic, when the site was apparently a major power. Morley maintained that ancient Maya society was essentially a united theocracyand one which was almost exclusively devoted to astronomical observations and mystically noting even “worshipping” the passage of time.

His directorship over all of the Institute’s activities in the Maya region soon ran into difficulty.

Sylvanus Morley – Wikipedia

This arrangement had much more in common with the architectural styles of civilizations in central Mexico more than morlwy thousand kilometres away than that of the Classic or Pre-Classic Maya. Kidderand Morley omrley left to concentrate on Chichen Itza.

The Ancient Maya was to be one of his more successful works outside of his popular writings in magazinesand has been posthumously revised and reprinted several times, although since the s Morley’s name is no longer listed as the main author. He escorted a party to the ruins of Uxmal in February, [31] on what was possibly his last visit to a Maya ruin.

He was buried in a plot in Santa Fe’s Fairview Cemetery; his second wife Frances Rhoads Morley was interred in the same plot upon her death in In addition to his scholarly work, Morley thought it important laa share his enthusiasm for the ancient Maya with the public.

He wrote inmkrley, in its various manifestations, the accurate record of its principal phenomena, constitutes the majority of Maya writing. This second Sylvanus G. Hill editorsThe Carnegie Maya: He protested strongly to the local authorities, proclaiming his credentials as an archaeologist ought to be above suspicion. By the turbulent political situation in Mexico had stabilized somewhat, clearing the way for work to begin on the Carnegie Institution’s Chichen Itza project.

In between overseeing the projects and conducting his own researches, Morley published several treatises on Maya hieroglyphics and his interpretations on their meaning. According to Redfield, the decreasing isolation and homogeneity moving from tribal to peasant village, to township, to urban center were causes of increased levels disorganization, secularization and individualization among the Maya.


Yet in his focus on calendric details, he omrley often overlook or even neglect the documentation of other non-calendric aspects of the Maya script; the comprehensiveness of some of his publications suffered much as a result. Chichen Itza had evidently been functionally abandoned long before the Spanish first came, although the local indigenous Yucatec Maya still lived in settlements nearby, and even within its former boundaries but in recently built wooden huts, not the stone buildings themselves.

New Mexico Office of the State Historian. In general, Morley held that the ancient Maya had been the pre-eminent civilization of Mesoamerica, from which other civilizcion had drawn their influences. Thompson shortly became the field’s most dominant figure and its uncontested expert.

Catalog Record: La civilización maya | Hathi Trust Digital Library

Patterson, Thomas Carl Nevertheless, although he “detested” the jungle conditions, he persevered in his work with evident enthusiasm. In Pierre Robert Colas. Journal of Anthropological Research.

The net research result of their excavations revealed Chichen Itza to be an unusual mixture of building styles: Oxford and New York: Archaeological Institute of America.

On his return trip to the US he carried with him artifacts taken from the cenote, to be deposited at Harvard’s Peabody Museum. The move made us homonyms, and gave rise to endless confusion. Key Figures in the History of Anthropology 2nd ed. Some leading figures from a later generation of Mayanists would come to regard his publications as being inferior in detail and scope to that of his predecessors, such as Teoberto Maler and Alfred Maudslay — poorer quality reproductions, omitted texts, sometimes inaccurate drawings.

His family moved to Colorado when Sylvanus was ten years old, and his secondary education was completed at Buena Vista and Colorado Springs. Several times, he was incapacitated by recurring bouts of malaria and he had to be hospitalised after separately contracting colitis and then amoebic dysentery the following year.