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M.A.R.I. Bulletin: Volume 5, No. 1 (Fall)
Studying the indigenous cultures of Mexico and Central America since 1924

Director's News

2014 has been a great year for M.A.R.I. We were graced with generous donations that resulted in a new GIS lab and expanded collections storage. These changes will help us advance our research efforts as well as better steward our wonderful collections. M.A.R.I. also reconstituted its library; it should be fully operational sometime in early 2015. Finally, we inaugurated an undergraduate internship program that has brought a whole new group of enthusiastic Tulane students to M.A.R.I.—a welcome addition to the increasingly bustling Institute!

The 11th Annual Tulane Maya Symposium in March was a great success. The meeting focused on the issues of migration, mercantilism, and pilgrimage in the ancient Maya world.  Apart from outstanding papers, Heather McKillop electrified the symposium by bringing 3D models of some of the important objects discussed in her presentation. The Saturday symposium ended with the compelling documentary The Dance of the Maize God and an interesting question & answer session afterward.Finally, we added a new talk on the Sunday program that was extremely well-received and will be continued in future symposia. I am, as always, extremely grateful to all the speakers and participants for contributing to such an interesting and enjoyable event. I want to thank all of the student volunteers and registrants for making the weekend such a success!

In the Fall, M.A.R.I. organized the fifth installment of the South-Central Conference on Mesoamerica. Students and professors from Louisiana, Texas, and Mississippi (among others) shared their research while Dr. John Watanabe provided an erudite and engaging keynote. Again, this was a team effort and I am grateful to all the Tulane students who worked so diligently.

Lastly, our on-going efforts to rationalize, document, and publicize our holdings led us to a fascinating discovery in the waning months of 2014. A quick trip to Tulane’s long-term storage facilities resulted in our discovery of dozens of plaster casts of ancient Maya monuments that had been donated to the Institute over 75 years ago. In the coming months we plan to inventory the entire collection and eventually plan for an exhibit of these unseen treasures.

We have grand hopes and plans for M.A.R.I. in upcoming years. Any support you can provide is always welcome! The donations we received this year are wonderful proof of how the Institute can expand and improve. We hope to keep it up with your help!

Best to all,



2015 Tulane Maya Symposium

The 12th Annual Tulane Maya Symposium will explore the significance the Classic Maya placed on the death of their divine rulers and the meaning they invested in their funerary architecture, building decoration, grave goods, burial texts, and mortuary rituals.

The symposium will be held March 19-22, 2015. We hope you can join us!



We are excited to announce that this year we are partnering with the Consulate of Mexico which will be hosting the opening of a photography exhibit as well as the K-12 Teacher Workshop.

Please visit the TMS webpage to find out more and register today. We can't wait to see you in New Orleans!

M.A.R.I. GIS lab opens


Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli offers class in GIS and Archaeology


M.A.R.I. is pleased to announce the inauguration of the new GIS lab! Thanks to a generous donor and the subsequent diligence by Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli, M.A.R.I. now boasts a modern lab dedicated to geographic exploration and spatial analysis, mainstays of archaeological research.



With ten new high-performance computers, this new lab will provide scholars the ability to gather and analyze spatial data for a variety of research applications. A large, high-resolution flat-screen monitor allows this lab to be used as a classroom for teaching students how to use the latest tools in map-making, remote sensing, and spatial analysis.

This Fall, Dr. Estrada-Belli offered a Ge0graphic Information Systems and Archaeology class.  Students were introduced to the methods and applications for the collection and analysis of map and remote sensing image data. Using real datasets from Mesoamerica, students learned about the latest in sampling, survey methods and spatial analysis and how to apply these techniques to archaeological and environmental problems.


According to Dr. Estrada-Belli, this class is more than just a technical course. Students learn to recognize and explain spatial patterns both visually and quantitatively by displaying data in new and unconventional ways. 


Beyond the classroom, the GIS lab is proving already to be a valuable resource for scholars and continues M.A.R.I.'s long tradition of being on the cutting edge of geographic exploration in the field of archaeology. At the moment, some of our graduate students are using the lab to analyze newly gathered LiDAR data. Over the next few years, we hope to expand the Lab's collection of remote sensing data.  


For more information about the lab, please follow us on the lab's new Facebook page.



New cabinets, new interns in the M.A.R.I. Collections


M.A.R.I. Collections receive expanded storage




While he was a student at Tulane, Lt. Col. Clinton Effinger III (A&S ’49) was introduced to M.A.R.I. and fell in love with archaeology.  After Clint passed away in 2013 at the age of 88, his wife Yvonne chose to honor his memory with a gift to the M.A.R.I. Collections.

This generous gift was used to make substantial improvements to the M.A.R.I. storage facilities. The new, modern cabinets, which significantly increase the storage capacity of the Collections, allow for proper curation of the artifact collections, including several items donated by Mr. Effinger more than sixty years ago. These cabinets allowed us to begin efforts to reorganize and re-house many of the artifacts.

To complete these tasks, M.A.R.I. inaugurated its Internship Program, in Spring 2014. It is open to Tulane undergraduate students and provides them with valuable experience they can use in future careers in anthropology, archaeology, and museum studies fields. Five interns participated in the program in Fall 2014. The two Collections interns, Monika Daniels (pictured above) and Shari Ex, assisted with an ongoing inventory project and the creation of a database of the artifacts in the M.A.R.I. Collections.

The other three interns worked on different projects at M.A.R.I.: Roxy White helped catalog and digitize a photographic collection in the Archives. Olivia Demkovitz and Liv Jacobson designed a small exhibit about the history of M.A.R.I. which will be installed during the upcoming semester. This exhibit will include objects from Frans Blom's famous first expedition to Mexico, casts made for the Chicago's World's Fair, as well as some interesting M.A.R.I. memorabilia that will help explain the long history of the Institute. 

We are grateful to all of the interns, volunteers, research assistants, and student workers who have worked so hard at M.A.R.I. this semester!


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Tulane University
6823 St. Charles Avenue
New Orleans, LA 70118


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