Join Professor Francisco Estrada-Belli of Tulane University as he returns to the Community Library to present his recent archaeological findings on the Mayan civilization.
“The discovery of a spectacularly decorated and inscribed building at Holmul recently brought this site to the forefront of Classic Maya history. These finds come to fill perhaps the largest gap in our knowledge, the sixth century CE. This was a time of great turmoil in the lowlands as the balance of power shifted across the land from the Tikal kingdom in the south to the Kaan kingdom in the north. It has been referred to as the “Tikal Hiatus” because of the dearth of historical texts at Tikal and elsewhere. New information is now revealing the existence of a royal lineage at Holmul with connections to both Tikal and the Kaan kingdom and the role it played during the initial phase of their long-lasting confrontation.” -Professor Estrada-Belli
Francisco Estrada Belli is an Italian-born Guatemalan archaeologist. He received a Ph.D. in archaeology from Boston University in 1998. He currently teaches archaeology and geographic information systems at Tulane University in New Orleans having previously held positions at Harvard University, Boston University, and Vanderbilt University. He is the author of “The First Maya Civilization. Ritual and Power before the Classic Period” (Routledge, 2011) the first book on the origins of Maya civilization since 1977. He is an active field researcher, and directs a multi-disciplinary archaeological dig at Holmul, in the Peten region of Guatemala. He has research appointments with Universidad San Carlos de Guatemala, and the American Museum of Natural History, is a Fellow of the Society of Antiquaries of London and a National Geographic Explorer. He is co-founder of the Maya Archaeological Initiative, a US non-profit organization that promotes research and youth education on Maya heritage as well as cultural site preservation. In 2002 he met Nina Neivens, Community School class of 1998, at an archaeology conference. She and her mom, Mary Neivens, also a Maya archaeologist and current Ketchum resident, later joined Francisco’s dig at Holmul. He and Nina married in 2004. They have two kids (Manolo 6 and Isabella 4) and spend their time between their home in New Orleans and their tent in the Guatemalan jungle.