Vi­a­jes,

Pasatiempo - - RANDOM ACTS -

of Amer­i­can Ar­chae­ol­ogy ex­ca­va­tions. The dig was to be funded by Charles P. Bowditch, of Cam­bridge, Mas­sachusetts, and Wil­liam H. Bixby, of St. Louis. Each was to con­trib­ute $1,500 per year for five years with half of the ex­portable finds to be di­vided among the Pe­abody Mu­seum at Har­vard and the St. Louis So­ci­ety. Bowditch was a wealthy Bos­ton busi­ness­man and am­a­teur Mayanist who un­der­wrote much of the Pe­abody Mu­seum’s in­ves­ti­ga­tions in Mex­ico and Cen­tral Amer­ica for more than 20 years, be­gin­ning in the 1890s. Most in­fa­mously, he sup­ported Ed­ward H. Thomp­son’s dredg­ing of the sa­cred cenote , or well, at the Maya ru­ins of Chichén Itzá, with the finds, in­clud­ing many gold ob­jects, shipped back to Har­vard. Thomp­son’s cenote ex­ca­va­tions and the le­gal­ity of the ex­port of his finds to the U.S. be­came a sig­nif­i­cant is­sue in the Mex­i­can press, but not un­til af­ter the Mex­i­can Revo­lu­tion had ended, in the 1920s, and af­ter Bowditch’s death. The Bowditch-Bixby Palenque ar­chae­ol­ogy plan never came to fruition, mainly be­cause it was eclipsed by the strug­gle over where the School of Amer­i­can Ar­chae­ol­ogy should be lo­cated. Whereas Hewett and his sup­port­ers ar­gued for Santa Fe, Bowditch and his sup­port­ers, in­clud­ing the Columbia Uni­ver­sity an­thro­pol­o­gist Franz Boas, pre­ferred Mex­ico City, while the prom­i­nent writer Charles Lum­mis hoped to lo­cate the school in Los An­ge­les.

In late 1908, the AIA gov­ern­ing com­mit­tee for Amer­i­can ar­chae­ol­ogy voted for Hewett’s plan, which al­lowed him to suc­cess­fully lobby the 1909 New Mex­ico Leg­is­la­ture to es­tab­lish the Mu­seum of New Mex­ico and to stip­u­late that both the mu­seum and the School of Amer­i­can Ar­chae­ol­ogy would be housed in the Palace of the Gov­er­nors. As Don Fowler notes in an ar­ti­cle en­ti­tled “Har­vard ver­sus Hewett,” Bowditch and the Cam­bridge crowd were de­feated, but they never ceased op­pos­ing Hewett’s projects or his be­lief that in­sti­tu­tions based west of the Mis­sis­sippi River should con­trol South­west­ern ar­chae­ol­ogy. While Thomp­son was dredg­ing the Chichén Itzá cenote, Hewett and his crew, in­clud­ing Mor­ley, trav­eled to Mex­ico and Gu­atemala in search of a suit­able ar­chae­o­log­i­cal site to ex­ca­vate. Let­ters to Hewett from F.W. Ship­ley, a pro­fes­sor of clas­sics at Wash­ing­ton Uni­ver­sity and of­fi­cer of the St. Louis So­ci­ety re­late that the so­ci­ety took over Bixby’s role as an un­der­writer. They also al­lo­cated funds for Hewett to pur­chase pre-Columbian an­tiq­ui­ties for a planned dis­play at the Mu­seum of Fine Arts in St. Louis (now the St. Louis Mu­seum of Art). In 1910, Hewett bought crates of Maya and Aztec ob­jects for the St. Louis So­ci­ety in Mex­ico and Gu­atemala. The same year, Hewett, Mor­ley, and Jesse L. Nus­baum did an ar­chae­o­log­i­cal re­con­nais­sance at the ru­ins of Quiriguá. The United Fruit Co. had pur­chased the prop­erty where the ru­ins are lo­cated to de­velop as a ba­nana plan­ta­tion, and it of­fered Hewett not only fi­nan­cial sup­port but also valu­able in-kind con­tri­bu­tions, such as free pas­sage for per­son­nel and freight on com­pany steam­ers and rail­ways. As many of Nus­baum’s pho­tos in the Palace of the Gov­er­nors Photo Ar­chives show, much of the first sea­son of 1911 was spent cut­ting and burning the for­est and veg­e­ta­tion from the ru­ins so that they might be mapped and ex­ca­va­tions begin. While this was (and is) com­mon prac­tice in ar­chae­o­log­i­cal projects in the trop­ics, the prob­lem, as the cor­re­spon­dence makes clear, is that Hewett’s St. Louis fun­ders ex­pected ex­ca­va­tions to have be­gun and for

im­por­tant and ex­portable spec­i­mens to have been un­cov­ered. While one might sug­gest that Hewett ought to have planned a longer sea­son in 1911, records show that they had barely enough funds to clear the jun­gle and map the ru­ins. The cor­re­spon­dence be­tween Hewett and the mem­bers of the St. Louis So­ci­ety from this pe­riod re­veals a fre­quently strained re­la­tion­ship. The crates of an­tiq­ui­ties Hewett pur­chased were held up and even tem­po­rar­ily lost in Mex­ico and Gu­atemala. Two let­ters writ­ten to Hewett in March 1910 from the St. Louis So­ci­ety of­fi­cer John Wulf­ing even re­quested that he pur­chase a neck­lace of pre-Columbian jade beads for his wife. Un­der Mor­ley’s di­rec­tion, the 1912 ex­pe­di­tion did ex­ca­vate sev­eral struc­tures at Quiriguá and un­cov­ered not only the ce­ramic ves­sel that is the sub­ject of this col­umn but also an im­por­tant Maya hiero­glyphic text and other fine ex­am­ples of ar­chi­tec­tural sculp­ture.

But the find­ings failed to meet the ex­pec­ta­tions of the St. Louis So­ci­ety, and in 1912, the gov­ern­ing body voted to cease fund­ing the project. The rea­sons for this de­ci­sion, as far as can be traced in the cor­re­spon­dence in the Hewett pa­pers, had pri­mar­ily to do with what the so­ci­ety rightly per­ceived as a lack of re­sults. Only a hand­ful of pa­pers about the ex­ca­va­tions were pub­lished in schol­arly jour­nals, and no fi­nal re­port was ever com­piled. The St. Louis so­ci­ety mem­bers were also bit­terly dis­ap­pointed that Hewett’s ex­ca­va­tions failed to pro­duce the quan­tity and qual­ity of ar­chae­o­log­i­cal spec­i­mens they felt en­ti­tled to by their fi­nan­cial con­tri­bu­tion. Although Hewett con­tin­ued to ne­go­ti­ate with the St. Louis so­ci­ety into 1913, there was no re­newal of spon­sor­ship. It did not help Hewett’s cause when, in March of that year, Mor­ley un­in­ten­tion­ally up­set the St. Louis peo­ple be­cause he failed to men­tion their sup­port in an ar­ti­cle he wrote for The Na­tional Geo­graphic on the Quiriguá ex­ca­va­tions. At the time, Mor­ley was in Yu­catán with Nus­baum, work­ing on a doomed film project for the Panama Cal­i­for­nia Ex­po­si­tion, held in San Diego in 1915. The pair also vis­ited the ru­ins of Tu­lum and were re­ported to have been eaten by can­ni­bals on the east coast of Yu­catán. Hewett was able to send an ex­pe­di­tion to Quiriguá in 1914, with the con­tin­ued sup­port of United Fruit, but also be­cause the work was now pri­mar­ily funded and di­rected to­ward de­vel­op­ing ex­hibits for the Panama Cal­i­for­nia Ex­hi­bi­tion.

Back to the present. Although the AIA is­sued two fur­ther no­tices warn­ing of in­creas­ingly harsh penal­ties should the St. Louis So­ci­ety sell fur­ther col­lec­tions, the Bon­hams auc­tion of the Quiriguá vase did take place. The St. Louis So­ci­ety web page tells its side of the story (http://users.stlcc.edu/mfuller/aia/). The state­ment on the Quiriguá vase notes that it was dis­played at the St. Louis Mu­seum of Art un­til 1980, when it was re­moved to make way for the pre-Columbian col­lec­tion of the depart­ment-store mag­nate Morton D. May. It notes fur­ther that the sale pro­ceeds will be used to reestab­lish the so­ci­ety’s com­mu­nity-ar­chae­ol­ogy pro­gram. Right be­fore the AIA Ex­ec­u­tive Com­mit­tee voted to re­voke the char­ter of the St. Louis So­ci­ety, on Jan. 10, its act­ing pres­i­dent, Michael Fuller, who is a pro­fes­sor emer­i­tus of an­thro­pol­ogy at the St. Louis Com­mu­nity Col­lege, was al­lowed to read a state­ment. He makes the ex­cel­lent points that the aca­demic and pro­fes­sional ar­chae­o­log­i­cal com­mu­nity in the U.S. has done noth­ing to deal with the prob­lem of or­phan ob­jects cre­ated by the field’s cur­rent laws, ethics, and best prac­tices. He also notes that most of the reg­u­la­tions deal with un­doc­u­mented ob­jects. And no one would say that ei­ther the Harageh Trea­sure or the Quiriguá vase were un­doc­u­mented. But given the fact that the St. Louis Mu­seum of Art just re­in­stalled its pre-Columbian col­lec­tion, it seems un­likely that the mu­seum would have re­fused to ac­cept the Quiriguá vase, as is ad­vanced in th­ese state­ments. Three years ago, when, as a scholar in res­i­dence at the New Mex­ico His­tory Mu­seum/Palace of the Gov­er­nors, I con­tacted the St. Louis Mu­seum of Art about the Quiriguá ob­jects, the cu­ra­tor at the time had no knowl­edge of any over­tures from the St. Louis So­ci­ety. The lat­est in this on­go­ing tale is that, on Jan. 25, the St. Louis So­ci­ety voted to com­ply with the de­mands of the AIA, and all pre­vi­ous of­fi­cers and board mem­bers have been re­placed. But was it a pyrrhic victory for the AIA? The ob­jects are still gone. Per­haps a Santa Fe mu­seum should have tried to pur­chase the Quiriguá vase, which was ex­ca­vated by a project di­rected from our own Palace of the Gov­er­nors.

Hewett stands next to Zoomorph P in Quiriguá, Gu­atemala, circa 1910-1911, Neg­a­tive No. 118274; top left, Syl­vanus G. Mor­ley at the base of a gi­ant mat­a­palo (stran­gler fig) in Quiriguá, 1910, Neg­a­tive No. 061131; top, struc­tures 1 (left) and 2 in Quiriguá, 1911, Neg­a­tive No. 061082; pho­tos Jesse Nus­baum, images cour­tesy the Palace of the Gov­er­nors Photo Ar­chives (NMHM/DCA)

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