When Archaeology is Destruction

tna-peccary-throne3The adjacent photo comparison from Tonina, Chiapas, offers sad evidence of how excavated stucco sculpture is rapidly deteriorating at some Maya sites, usually due to disinterest in conservation and an utter lack of thinking ahead. The images are of an important throne in Tonina’s acropolis, decorated with an image of a “star peccary” on its back and with three trident-flint supports. As one can see, much of the sculpted design has now disappeared.

The throne was once inscribed. In 1983 I noticed a stucco glyph (an emblem glyph, in fact) attached to the throne’s right side, but for some reason this was later detached, and eventually published as Plate 89 in Miller and Martin’s book Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya (2004).

I wish this was a unique case of a monument’s destruction-by-excavation, but tragically it’s not; there are many, many more examples out there.

4 thoughts on “When Archaeology is Destruction

  1. carlos December 18, 2008 / 10:45 PM

    Hi David, i really will appreciate if you could only upload a large image of the comparsion, thanks

    • David Stuart December 20, 2008 / 7:24 PM

      I hadn’t realized it was such a small photo — I am still learning the details of blogging. Anyway, I will upload a bigger one on Tuesday when I’m back in Austin.

  2. Richard A. Diehl December 24, 2008 / 6:17 PM

    Some of us who have been in the club for a long time know more than one archaeolgists who has not the slightest interest in basic professioanl obligations. ‘Nuff said.

    Dick Diehl

  3. David Stuart January 12, 2009 / 5:20 PM

    The larger photo is now up, as you can see. Sorry it took a while.

    Dave Stuart