Yale Bulletin and Calendar

May 24, 2002Volume 30, Number 30Two-Week Issue

Mary Miller, the Vincent Scully Professor of History of Art at Yale, and President Richard C. Levin stand in front of one of the large-format prints of the ancient murals at Bonampak that were presented to Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia.

Yale research on Maya murals
presented to Mexican anthropologists

Renowned Maya art expert Mary Miller, the Vincent ,Scully Professor of History of Art, presented to the Mexican government original documentation from her studies of the ancient murals at Bonampak -- one of the most significant Maya sites in Chiapas, Mexico.

Miller, who was joined at the May 15 presentation by Yale President Richard C. Levin -- presented the original data and large-format prints of a hand-painted reproduction of the wall paintings to Sergio Raul Arroyo, director general of Mexico's Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH) at Mexico's Museo Nacional de Antropologia.

"Perhaps no single artifact from the ancient New World offers as complex a view of Prehispanic society as do the Bonampak paintings," said Miller. "No other work features so many Maya engaged in the life of the court and rendered in such great detail, making the Bonampak murals an unparalleled resource for understanding ancient society."

The Bonampak Documentation Project -- a team Miller assembled in 1995 with funding from the National Geographic Society and the Getty Foundation -- recorded every aspect of the detailed murals in three narrow rooms at the Bonampak site, down to minute scraps of paint.

Back in New Haven, Miller and her students studied the data from the sites, which they had collected in three formats -- color transparency, photographic infrared and video infrared.

In 1999, the project hired an archaeological artist who hand-painted a reconstruction that incorporated all of the data into a single large-format work. With guidance from project members -- including representatives from the Universidad Nacional Autonoma de Mexico, Brigham Young University and the University of California, Riverside, and experts in epigraphy, iconography and a pigment specialist -- the artist completed the half-size re-creations of the murals in about two years.

Located deep within the tropical rainforests of Chiapas, Bonampak contains three rooms of murals, painted around A.D. 800, depicting the ancient Mayans at the end of their reign. They are shown engaging in court rituals and human sacrifice, wearing elegant costumes and stripping the clothing from fallen captives, acknowledging foreign nobles and receiving tribute. The murals and Miller's work were featured in this year's May issue of Arqueologia Mexicana.

"These Bonampak paintings offer a unique window onto a lost world," noted President Levin, who traveled to Mexico City to strengthen ties between the University and Mexico. "I am pleased that Yale has been able to support such important research at every step of the way."


Yale strengthens ties with Mexico during Levin's visit

Mexican doctoral students at Yale to receive added financial support

Yale research on Maya murals presented to Mexican anthropologists

Yale scientist Jerry Woodall wins National Medal of Technology

Carm Cozza named to College Football Hall of Fame

Yale physicist Devoret helps create 'artificial atom'


Stuart Schwartz to be new master of Ezra Stiles College

IN FOCUS: Yale University Health Services Center

Research offers new proof that babies can count

São Toméan president and new World Fellow visit campus

Joan Steitz honored for her work with 'snurps'

Alumni reunions feature talks, tours, music and more

Works by '1952's Authors and Artists' to be displayed

Graduate School will honor three faculty members for their mentoring

Library exhibit marks milestone for monarchy

Paintings by award-winning artist on view at Slifka Center

Graduate students get practical advice on interview etiquette

Longtime city resident named head of University Properties

Dwight Hall Management Fellows to oversee center's fundraising

Art gallery to showcase 'outsider art' at special fundraising event . . .

Tennis coach Alex Dorato is honored as 2001 New England Coach of the Year

City gallery features national exhibition juried by Yale sculptor

Commencement Information

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