Piedras Negras - Piecing Together the Past
  Piedras Negras is the largest Classic Maya city in the western Maya Lowlands, located on the Guatemalan bank of the Usumacinta River. Its existence, and the rich record of its sculptures and buildings, led to intensive fieldwork by the University Museum, University of Pennsylvania, in the 1930s and, more recently, to years of investigations by the Piedras Negras Project of Brigham Young University and the Universidad del Valle. During the spring of 1999, the Project completed its third field season, conducting 23 operations in a wide variety of locations. The goals of this fieldwork addressed a number of questions:
  • When did the city as a concentrated settlement begin, and when did it end?
  • Was its collapse a rapid one, provoked by attacks from its enemy, Yaxchilan?
  • What was the complete sequence of its palaces? Did such facilities have quarters for servants and places for mundane activities such as food production?
  • Does monumental architecture, especially of a mortuary nature, change considerably at the inception of the Late Classic period?
  • What would intensive excavations in the near periphery reveal about the supporting landscape of Piedras Negras?
  • Are earlier maps of the city reliable and complete?
  • What can soil chemistry tell us about subsurface remains and ancient activities?

Most of these questions were at least partly resolved in the 1999 field season at Piedras Negras. ("Among the River Kings: Archaeological Research at Piedras Negras, Guatemala, 1999", a FAMSI Report with contributions by Stephen D. Houston, Héctor Escobedo, Richard Terry, David Webster, George Veni, and Kitty F. Emery)

Where is Piedras Negras? - See where Piedras Negras is on a map of the country of Guatemala.

The 2000 field season has permitted the completion of works in the south Group and in the Acropolis, adding fresh information on the poplulation and its artifacts. To view this report (only available in Spanish at this time) click here.

Exploring the Archaeological Dig at Piedras Negras, Guatemala

During the 1999 field season, KBYU Television sent a camera crew to Piedras Negras to capture an "image" of the site and the work being conducted there. The following is a compilation of video clips that provide an audio/visual introduction to the archaeological site.

Tour the Dig Site
The Sweat Bath
Artifacts & The Find
Process of Digging

The video clips require the QuickTime Player, which can be downloaded from the Apple website.

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