I hope you can go to "The Rise of Maya Civilization" at the 8th Annual Maya Symposium & Workshop at Tulane University, New Orleans, from February 11-13, 2011. The keynote speaker will be Richard Hansen. Papers will be given by David Anderson, Anthony Andrews, E. Wyllys Andrews, Barbara Arroyo, Jaime Awe, George Bey, Markus Eberl, Julia Guernsey, Norman Hammond, Michael Love, and Marc Zender.

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I have a very sad announcement to make. I can hardly write about it. My dear friend for so many years, Robert Rands, died Friday, July 23, 2010. Bob was the most wonderful person I have ever known and worked with, and that covers a period of over 45 years. For many years I worked with Bob at Palenque, he doing all of the ceramic investigation, me just being his right-hand man. All of his ceramic work he turned over to INAH in Mexico City.

Before I even worked with Bob at Palenque I worked with him in Mexico City, illustrating all of the some 20,000 potsherds he had collected. He had rented a big house in Mexico City in the Lomas District, mainly because it had a four-story tower with windows all the way around it where I could work.

When I first entered the house I saw a wide circular stair that went up and up. Piled on all of the steps were sacks by the hundreds. I asked Bob what the sacks were for and he said that all of the analysis of the sherds and pots was finished and the sacks were full of the sherds and pots that I was to illustrate. There were thousands of them. This is where I met Alberto Ruz, who would come over every evening and sit at a tin table (the only furniture in the place) discussing his work with Bob. I just listened but learned a lot. I liked Ruz and we became good friends.

I could go on and on talking about Bob Rands, but I think I will have to tearfully quit now.

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The new discovery at Chiapa de Corzo reminds me of the time I visited this site in the early 70's. I was coming from Palenque on my way to San Cristobal de las Casas by the way of Ocosingo. Terrible rains had washed out the road in many places so that I had to make a detour to Tuxtla Gutierrez, getting hung up in the tiny hamlet of Chiapa de Corzo. The now-famous three-story pyramid with the 2,700-year-old tomb, at that time was covered with dense forest and looked like all of the other mounds that surrounded it, only much taller. Seeing all of these forest-covered mounds made me wonder if they were all pyramids or if it was just the nature of the landscape. But it seemed to me that that couldn't be possible, at least for this one pyramid that was so unusually tall. There were no hotels and it was raining hard. I finally found a woman in a tiny hut who put me up for the night. Little did I or this woman know that this very tall pyramid and burial within it would become famous as the oldest-known tomb in Mesoamerica.

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PARI member Jeremy Sabloff has taken over the helm of the Santa Fe Institute. Jeremy, you sure picked a nice place to go. I love Santa Fe, and who knows, you may find me coming to visit you.

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PARI is truly going International. We have members in 18 countries. Yes, and some are as far away as Australia, Portugal, Spain, Japan, and Poland. Europe is represented by many countries with a number of members in many. Wish we could have a good old "get-together."

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Listen to this all of you folks who think we are so lucky living here in California where the weather is so pleasant. Practically the whole month of January we had nothing but freezing cold blown down from the Artic—thunder, lightning, and rain, rain, rain, and more pouring rain, to fill a few lakes seems to me. The trouble is that we San Franciscans are not Eskimos who eat enough fat to keep us warm.

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Don't think we know all the answers. There are so many new mounds and temples right at the very center of Chichen Itza in Yucatan, the site where we have thought for ages that we knew everything about it. The amazing thing though is that these temples have pre-Classic dates, pre-Olmec even. Where we have thought that the Olmec were before the Maya, now it looks possible that the Olmec and Maya may have been sisters. Will and Tony Andrews are now in Yucatan looking into all of these amazing new finds. Will and Tony, we are waiting to hear from you about what is going on.

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If you live in the country you undoubtedly see a lot of happy dogs, who can run all around and visit their neighborhood dogs. Or maybe you live in the city, like San Francisco where dogs have a ball meeting other dogs at Peets on Filmore or at the park on Nob Hill, in front of Grace Cathedral where on any nice day dozens and dozens of doggies come with their owners to meet all of the other dogs. All kinds of dogs: big, little, tiny, bull dogs, cocker spaniels, airedales, terriers, and way more all running around sniffing each other to say "hello," happy as can be. It is easy to see who is the boss, doggie or master. If doggie is master, he goes and visits all of the other doggies' masters; if the owner is master, that doggie always goes back to its own master. This is what we call our "dog days" on Nob Hill.

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I just returned from Palm Coast, Florida where I attended the "Maya at the Playa," an archaeology conference of 300 people from 15 countries and 25 states in the U.S. directed by Matt Saunders, who did a fantastic job coordinating the entire five days into one jolly time of great speakers, great workshops, super great food and parties galore. All of the speakers were great; here is a sample of some of the talks: "The Murals of San Bartolo" by Dr. William Saturno; "Maya Hieroglyphs" by Dr. Harri Kettunen University of Helsinki and Stanley Guenter and Dr. Ramzy Barrois from the Sorbonne; "Explorations in Maya Music" by Dr. Jaime Awe; "New Tikal Tombs" by Dr. Amando Anaya; "'Grounding' Maya Complexity: Landscape Settlement Patterns" by Diane and Arlen Chase; "Ballcourt Iconography at Caracol, Belize" by Patsy Holden, a student of Arlen Chase's who by enlarging a rubbing of mine of a ballcourt altar from two feet to 20 feet was able to pick out the astounding text of the altar; and finally my talk "Rubbing my Way Through the Jungle."

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Sadly, I have to report that our good friend Dr. Alejandro Martinez Muriel died on March 6th in Mexico City. At the top in INAH archaeology, he was as well known and liked by those of us in the US as in Mexico. Years ago he worked with Ed Kurjack and me at El Palmar, where both Karl Taube and I got bit by bot flies. He had just written a new book on a review of the Ruz discovery of Pakal's Tomb and had written to me asking if he could use some of my photographs. I had answered his letter telling him that he could use anything of mine he wished. It was just 23 days later that he died.

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Some good news. On April 6th Prudence Rice received the University Women of Distinction Award at Southern Illinois University at Carbondale. Pru is Vice Chancellor for Research and Director of the Office of Research Development and Administration and a distinguished professor in anthropology. She is known worldwide for her International Research Program. The award couldn't have gone to a more deserving scholar.

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Xunantunich has always been a special site to me ever since I worked there with Harriot Topsey and Jaime Awe years ago, doing GPR (Ground Penetrating Radar) with machinery loaned to us by Stanford University. We thought at that time that it was just a small site above the Mopan River. Now, thanks to Kat Brown, as she reports in the April 15th Institute of Maya Studies Explorer, we know that Xunantunich was the largest and most important site in the region, and that it was not destroyed by earthquake, as long believed. From Jason Yager's report, we now understand that it was destroyed after the site was conquered by its enemies. Then too it was not the first center to be abandoned as we always thought, but was one of the last sites to have collapsed.

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Boy, that article article in Archaeology Magazine about unexpected consequences for the market in looted antiquities really is something: Forging ahead: Or, how I learned to stop worrying and love eBay. I would think that museums would now stop buying anything as it could be a good fake or a bad fake. Thank goodness my rubbings are not fakes, at least those done from the actual monuments deep in the jungle. An occasional one done in a museum - who knows?

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George Stuart and David have come out with a new book on Palenque published by Thames & Hudson, Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya. The best part is that it takes us through all of the discoveries and the expeditions there without having to read a dozen books to get it all. And it is indexed, thank goodness, so it is easy to find what you are looking for.

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Another new book has just come out, quite different from all the others - Lawrence Desmond's Yucatan Through Her Eyes: Alice Dixon Le Plongeon, Writer & Expeditionary Photographer. Larry writes about this young bride of 18 married to the adventurer Dr, Augustus Le Plongeon, twenty years her senior who believed that the Maya founded Egyptian civilization. Because of this crazy belief archaeologist have paid little attention to what the Le Plongeons were doing. However, Alice kept a diary, which Larry has reproduced in its entirety, that in itself is astounding and often downright comical.

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I've been reading the Popol Vuh over again for the umpteenth time. I really like Allen Christenson's version published by Oklahoma Press in 2007. What I like best is that it is told in a systematic way with chapter headings announcing which episode is being discussed, so if you want to look up a certain episode in Hunahpu and Xbalanque's life, just turn to that chapter. No need to turn to an index and then try to figure out which page is the one you need. (There is an index, but for my purpose I didn't need it.) The footnotes are great - after the episode has been told right there on that page. Illustrations make the book so readable also (over 80 drawings, photos, and maps). It has been fun. I now feel that I know the Popol Vuh better than I ever did before.

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