The Importance of Our Work

The massive carved stone monuments of the archaeological site of Quiriguá, in the municipality of Los Amates, Department of Izabal, Guatemala are the finest examples of art, iconography, and epigraphy in the ancient Maya World, and serve as “an essential source for the study of Mayan civilization” (UNESCO 1994). The monoliths are composed of anthropomorphic and zoomorphic sculptures that represent a remarkable record of the site’s social, political and economic history. In 1981, the Archaeological Park and Ruins of Quiriguá were recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the skill and artistry of the ancient Maya sculptors led the monuments to be declared as “universal masterpieces.”

Panorama perspective showing the acropolis area at Quiriguá
Image from the March – May 1883 Alfred Percival Maudslay expedition to the site, showing a man (for scale) standing next to Stela D. Photo credit: Pitt Rivers Museum, University of Oxford.

Repeated natural and anthropogenic actions, have detrimentally impacted these irreplaceable sculptures. In 2012, the damage and continuing threats to Quiriguá were officially recognized, and the site was placed on the World Monuments Watch List. This action emphasized the need for effective protection and preservation of this important cultural heritage site. The USF Libraries multiyear project proposes to digitally document in 3D, the collection of Quiriguá monuments along with the site and environs. The results will provide USF with a unique digital collection of distinction that will be used globally by scholars and educators for research and instruction on openly accessible web-based platforms. The initial phase of the program will begin to record the monuments that were captured by Alfred Maudslay in the late 19th century.

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