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Image - Cacao Pod Vessel - K6706 © Justin Kerr FAMSI © 2005:
Carlos Rudy Larios Villalta

Architectural Restoration Criteria in the Maya Area
Translation of the Spanish by Alex Lomónaco
Vea este informe en Español.

Photo 40. Tikal, Structure 5D-83, main façade, May 5, 1991.

Research Year:  2000
Culture:  Maya
Chronology:  Pre-Columbian
Location:  Mesoamerica
Site:  Maya Area

Table of Contents

Some Backgrounds
Definitions and General Conservation Criteria
Social Function
The Ruin
Restoration Methods
Liberation, Analysis and Diagnosis
Stabilization, or Consolidation
Reinforcements or Liners
Collapsed Walls
Reintegration, or Anastylosis
Fallen Walls
Marking Stones
Conclusions about Reintegration
A Few Examples
Chichén Itzá
Integration, or Complements
The Mark of our Age
Concrete and Iron
Inset Faces
Restitution of Volumes
Small Stones and Thin Flagstones
A Technique of My Own
Ashlar Masonry, or Stone Blocks
Degradation and Protection
What Can We Do?
Trying to Attain Climatic Stability
Drainage of Rain Water, Number One Enemy: The Case of Copán’s Archaeological Cut
List of Figures
List of Photographs
Sources Cited


The architectural restoration of the Maya area is not a frequently discussed issue, and consequently not too much known for the general public. Nevertheless, it has an obvious significance, as restoration is responsible for the ruins transformation of numerous archaeological monuments into outstanding tourist attractions as well as development centers for the nearby communities and companies involved in tourism.

Presently, countries in Mesoamerica are requesting that archaeological projects, in addition to studying the prehispanic cultures past, include at least partial restoration works as a part of their programs. Unfortunately, these works are not being accomplished by experts in this field, and much too often archaeologists, all by themselves, must take full responsibility. Moreover, there are no official guidelines or criteria so far on which to base our actions.

This work, completed thanks to the assistance and support provided by FAMSI, will attempt to fill in the gap by discussing a number of primary conservation criteria and by defining, as much as we can, major theoretical and conceptual foundations to make them available to all those who for different circumstances may find themselves engaged in these activities.

Consequently, we hope to be of help in establishing a theoretical framework to justify the methodology of reconstruction involving archaeology as a base of conservation. In other words, it is not our intention to make archaeologists become restorers, but rather to spread the awareness of the urge to coordinate all archaeological actions with those of monumental conservation, in the understanding that they are complementary and by no means competitive activities, and that one is no less important than the other.

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Submitted 02/12/2001 by:

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