Architecture, Restoration, and Imaging
of the Maya Cities of
UXMAL, KABAH, SAYIL, and LABNÁ
The Puuc Region, Yucatán, México
Graphic and Photographic Documentation
The earliest Euro-American explorers of Maya ruins recognized that images were necessary to convey the mystery and grandeur of the civilization they were discovering. Ever since, images have been essential ingredients of all studies of and publication about Maya art and architecture.
These images have included an extraordinary range of media: pencil and ink drawings, watercolors, oil, tempera, and acrylic paintings, wax and ink rubbings, photographs ranging from early glass plate gray-scale negatives to color negatives, film, video, and digital photography. Each of these media has its own characteristics, appropriate for recording and making available different aspects of an archaeological site, different types of observations and information.
A few types, such as rubbings and tracings, closely reproduce the exact size of the objects from which they are made, but drawings and paintings can be made any size with radically different relationships to the size of their subjects. Likewise, the size of photographs can be drastically enlarged or reduced.
It has always been possible to manipulate images, but the advent of digital imaging has made this much easier and therefore more prevalent. To use images as evidence, therefore, and for viewers to be able to interpret correctly what they are looking at, it is essential that these manipulations be made clear. Most are not. In this web site, no image has been adjusted by what is generally called "perspective correction", but which might more accurately be termed "perspective distortion".
More important than the characteristics of different media are the different forms of representation, based on different conventions developed over the years to record specialized types of information. Thus we have maps, aerial photographs and satellite imaging, pictorial landscapes, floor plans, elevations, cross-sections, stratigraphic sections, outline drawings, rubbings, tracings, exploded views of building and structural details, alignment diagrams, hypothetical and proposed restoration drawings, and many others.
Photographs have been taken under various types of natural and artificial light, sometimes highly controlled, with different lenses for different purposes. Stereo photographs were taken already in the 19th century and more recently stereo-photogrammetry has been used. This is not even to mention the various types of labortory imaging.
The types of imaging on this web site represent only a fraction of this enormous range. Yet I hope they will facilitate comparisons of the various ways in which images of Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil, and Labná have been made over the years and the varied uses to which they have been put.
Information about these images and theories based on them are included in the bibliography of publications on which this web site so heavily depends.