February 9, 2013 Franco Rossi, PhD candidate: "Recent Investigations at Xultun: The Taaj Group and its Murals"

    Ancient murals are rare in the Maya world, but rarer still are the archaeological remains of these murals’ creators. This presentation explored recent research at the Classic-period Maya site of Xultun, Guatemala, where the recent discovery of a late mural in the Taaj group provides an exciting opportunity to examine scribal practice and courtly culture at this large Classic period center.  The mural depicts not only portraiture of elite figures in a courtly scene, but also presents a palimpsest of roughly sketched, minute calendrical glyphs interspersed among those painted figures.  In 2012, focused excavations were conducted at the Taaj group yielding new insight into the lives of the poorly known artisans who inhabited it. This presentation detailed the recent archaeological excavations, discussed the mural in light of these investigations and examined the link between its content and the new discoveries made within the group.

    Franco Rossi is currently a Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Archaeology at Boston University, where he specializes in the archaeology of Mesoamerica with special focus on the social politics, epigraphy and iconography of the Ancient Maya.  Leaving business in 2005, Franco had his official Maya archaeology start in the University of Pennsylvania Museum, volunteering for two years as a docent, and assisting with the preparation of the 2008 Painted Metaphors exhibit, curated by Elin Danien. He began studying Maya hieroglyphics as part of this Pre-Columbian society’s Glyph Group. Franco is now in his fifth year of graduate study.  He has conducted epigraphic research for the Boston Museum of Fine Arts and is currently working at the Princeton Art Museum, assisting with the Art of the Ancient Americas installation under curator Bryan Just. He is now working on a dissertation concerning his archaeological work at Xultun, carried out as part of William Saturno’s San Bartolo Regional Archaeological Project.

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