Exposing the Maya

USD $40.00



ISBN: 978-1-913875-24-4

176 pages

191 × 229 mm (9 × 7 ½ in)

140 colour and b & w illustrations

September 2022


A compelling account of the early period of expeditionary archaeology and photography told through the words and works of six pioneers

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Exposing the Maya focuses on the works of 19th-century photographers Désiré Charnay, Alice and Augustus Le Plongeon, Teobert Maler, Alfred Maudslay and Adela Breton, all of whom were masters of their craft and travelled extensively to sites in Mexico and Central America. The over 100 selected images in this volume, together with nearly 40 additional contextual images featuring sketches from travel journals, hand-coloured drawings, prints and maps, are combined with the photographers’ own words found in their published writings, journals and letters to provide insight into their methods, context for their images and to capture the realities of field work in Mesoamerica.   

Accessible and highly illustrated, Exposing the Maya features rare and important early photographs of the archaeological ruins and remains of the great Maya and Aztec civilizations of Mesoamerica, from an age that witnessed the evolution of photographic techniques and brought to life the long-faded murals and decoration of these ruins. This is an absorbing story of incredible journeys, the challenging conditions under which these pioneering photographers produced their images, and how they perceived the remnants of these ancient indigenous cultures in modern-day Mexico, Guatemala and Honduras.

Author biographies

Katia Sainson is a professor of French in the Department of Languages, Literatures and Cultures at Towson University

John W. Hessler is the curator of the Jay I. Kislak Collection of the Archaeology and History of the Early Americas at the Library of Congress and a lecturer at the Johns Hopkins University

Table of Contents

  • Preface
  • Exposing the Maya
  • The Photographers
    Désiré Charnay
    Alice and Augustus Le Plongeon
    Teobert Maler
    Alfred Maudslay
    Adela Breton
  • Notes
  • Bibliography
  • Index
  • Photo Credits