Cover image for Alfred Maudslay and the Maya : a biography
Alfred Maudslay and the Maya : a biography
Graham, Ian, 1923-
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
Norman, Okla. : University of Oklahoma Press, [2002]

Physical Description:
323 pages : illustrations ; 23 cm
Format :


Call Number
Material Type
Home Location
Item Holds
F1435.M44 G73 2002 Adult Non-Fiction Non-Fiction Area

On Order



In this fascinating biography, the first ever published about Alfred Maudslay (1850-1931), Ian Graham describes this extraordinary Englishman and his pioneering investigations of the ancient Maya ruins.

Maudslay, the grandson of a famous English inventor and engineer, spent his formative adult years in the South Seas as a junior official in Great Britain's Colonial Office. Despite his exotic experiences, he did not find his true vocation until the age of thirty-one, when he arrived in Guatemala.

Maudslay played a crucial role in exploring and documenting the monuments and architecture of the ancient Maya ruins at Palengue Copán, Chichén Itzá, and other sites previously unknown. His photographs and plaster casts have proven to be invaluable in the deciphering of Maya hieroglyphics. Personal resources allowed him to undertake fieldwork at a time when no institution provided such support. He made plaster casts of large stone monuments, accurate maps of sites, and painstaking recordings of inscriptions. His Biologia Centrali-Americana, a multivolume compendium of photographs, drawings, plans, and text published almost a century ago, remains an essential foundation for Maya studies. Perhaps Maudslay's greatest legacy is magnificent collection of glass-negative photographs, many of which are reproduced in this book.

Author Notes

Ian Graham has spent over forty years exploring the Maya area. Graham is the Director of the Maya Corpus Program, which he inaugurated in 1975 at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University

Reviews 1

Choice Review

Graham, a leading Mayanist and director of the Maya Corpus Project from the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard University, has written a thorough and detailed biography of the British gentleman explorer, man of means, and founding father of Mesoamerican studies, Alfred Maudslay (1850-1931). Working closely with descendants of Maudslay and drawing heavily on Maudslay's writings, publications, and field notes, Graham takes us from the archaeologist's early years in the colonial office in the South Seas through the years of Mayan exploration to his later years of scholarly consolidation. Maudslay was one of the first to carefully explore Palenque, Copan, Tikal, Quirigua, and Chichen Itza, among other sites. His photographs, plaster casts, surveys, and drawings were extremely important for later Maya scholars and were equally influential in setting standards within the scholarly discipline of archaeology. There is an old-fashioned quality to this book that should appeal to readers who like straightforward biography and adventure tales. It is filled with many charming and interesting anecdotes that show both the depth of Graham's research and his interest in the subject. The biography includes 82 plates and photos, many of which are Maudslay's. ^BSumming Up: Recommended. All levels and collections. M. T. Scholz Grays Harbor College

Table of Contents

Mapp. 2
Prefacep. 6
1 Introductionp. 9
2 Background and Schoolingp. 13
3 Cambridge and Guatemalap. 24
4 Fijip. 34
5 Samoap. 51
6 Tongap. 61
7 Quirigua and Tikalp. 76
8 Yaxchilanp. 93
9 Quiriguap. 108
10 Copanp. 127
11 Highlands and Pine Ridgep. 142
12 Chichen Itzap. 156
13 Palenquep. 166
14 Marriagep. 178
15 To the Highlands and Copan with Anniep. 193
16 Zavaletap. 213
17 Biologia Centrali-Americanap. 220
18 The end of Maudslay, Sons and Fieldp. 235
19 Bernal Diaz and other worksp. 243
20 Last yearsp. 259
21 Tributesp. 270
22 A backward glancep. 277
Notesp. 285
Referencesp. 308
Maudslay's donations and bequestsp. 315
Alfred Maudslay's Family Treep. 316
Annie Maudslay's Family Treep. 317
Indexp. 318