The untold story of Alberto Ruz Lhuillier and his archaeological excavations at Palenque, México : a micro- and macrohistorical approach
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In 1952, when Alberto Ruz Lhuillier discovered the magnificent chamber and tomb of K'inich Janaab' Pakal I, the Classic Maya king of Palenque, many scholars from around the world declared that it was one of the greatest discoveries in Mesoamerican archaeology. Although there are summary accounts describing the life of the man who discovered the tomb, there are no detailed biographies, nor are there any in-depth discussions about his ten year's work at the archaeological site of Palenque, México that took place in the late 1940's and 1950's. This study fills that information gap. It is a "behind the scenes" narrative that includes an internal and external historiography of the archaeological project. Within that framework, a short biography of Ruz's life before and after the work is included. Ruz and many others have written extensively about the excavations, the iconography and the epigraphy of the site, but the story contained herein has never been told, since it is derived from primary sources including personal accounts, newspaper articles, correspondence, progress reports, interviews, unpublished and translated Informes de Trabajo, and Anales del Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Historia y Etnografía. The outcome of this approach is a new view of the excavations and of the man who conducted them. In addition, the study includes a consideration of the political and cultural context within which the excavations took place, thus fostering an understanding of how these issues played out in the work. Through this micro- and macrohistorical approach one may detect and perhaps understand the personal and social influences present at the time of excavation. This approach also gives insight into how these forces shaped the broader history of Maya archaeology in Mexico.
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