Post Script: Palenque’s Royal Sun in Southeastern art
The documentary, “Breaking the Maya Code” revealed an astonishing coincidence that occurred the month I turned 21 in Mexico. All these years, I never knew. We will get to that later.
The program states, “The white Maya headband was the symbol of ceremonial authority in Maya villages and still is today.”
In “Breaking the Maya Code” Archaeologist Linda Schele spends a significant portion of the program on Palenque. Palenque was the capital of the Chiapas Highlands during the Classic Period. It is also the Maya city from which the University of Minnesota’s Mineralogical Lab obtained samples of Maya Blue stucco that matched 100% with attapulgite from Georgia.
Assigned to the X-Files!
While watching “Breaking the Maya Code” I had an OMG moment. I recognized people I knew from long ago. Linda Schele, her architect husband, David, and I were constantly bumping into each other in the Yucatan Peninsula. I had completely forgotten their names.
We three Southerners stuck together. They were from the University of South Alabama and I was from Georgia Tech. The three of us all visited Palenque for the first time in the same tour group. David and I photographed the buildings at Palenque together.
Who would have thought what the future held for us? She became one of the giants in Maya studies. I would unknowingly set off a chain of events that would connect Palenque with Georgia.
David had a grant from the University of South Alabama to photograph Maya architecture in the Yucatan. A condition of my fellowship was that I was to photograph all the major Mesoamerican sites in Mexico. We took photos of each other at the entrance gate to the Maya city of Labna in Campeche. Linda took this photo of me (above). I am wearing a Lambda Chi Alpha fraternity shirt.
Life is indeed a box of chocolates.
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Richard Thornton is a professional architect, city planner, author and museum exhibit designer-builder. He is today considered one of the nation’s leading experts on the Southeastern Indians. However, that was not always the case. While at Georgia Tech Richard was the first winner of the Barrett Fellowship, which enabled him to study Mesoamerican architecture and culture in Mexico under the auspices of the Institutio Nacional de Antropoligia e Historia. Dr. Roman Piňa-Chan, the famous archaeologist and director of the Museo Nacional de Antropologia, was his fellowship coordinator. For decades afterward, he lectured at universities and professional societies around the Southeast on Mesoamerican architecture, while knowing very little about his own Creek heritage. Then he was hired to carry out projects for the Muscogee-Creek Nation in Oklahoma. The rest is history.Richard is the Tribal Historic Preservation Officer for the KVWETV (Coweta) Creek Tribe and a member of the Perdido Bay Creek Tribe. In 2009 he was the architect for Oklahoma’s Trail of Tears Memorial at Council Oak Park in Tulsa. He is the president of the Apalache Foundation, which is sponsoring research into the advanced indigenous societies of the Lower Southeast.
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