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Oaxaca and Chiapas 

Monday, July 16, 2007


A break btwn the Oaxaca and Chiapas delegations, so I made a quick trip to Palenque. It´s the last major archaeological site in the Americas that I had yet to visit and I was looking for an opportunity to come here, and I´m glad I made the trip (even tho my bus from San Cristobal was 3 hrs late last nite).

The first time I came to Mexico about 25 years ago I went to Teotihuacan and was completely enamored with that archaeological site. After that I visited as many archaeological sites as I could, and for a while wanted to be an archaeologist. It seemed to provide such a direct view into the distant past. But then in grad school I took classes with John Hoopes and he began to show me these sites in a completely different light. Sites like Teotihucan are largely fabricated reconstructions. Furthermore, from a social history perspective, large sites like this focus on a small faction of elite society and ignore the masses. Much more important and interesting archaeological studies are done at sites that are not so much to look at.

In John Sayles´ film Men With Guns, a boy tells tourists bloody stories about the Maya so they tip him better. Tour guides seem often to be like that. I heard one tour guide on the site say ¨Los maya no era politica, era religiosa¨ (The Maya were not political; they were religious¨). Here we are at a site that focuses on a society with deep class divisions, with the elite controlling the labor of the masses to build these temples that served little purpose for the subaltern classes, and there is no political dimension to this site? So, I forgo the tour guide and wander around the site on my own until the heat begins to get to me. If I want more, I´ll go back home and review my notes from John Hoopes´ archeology classes.

I've uploaded a bunch of photos to

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