During this first expedition artist Eusebio Lara made fanciful drawings of the stelae at Tikal’s Main Plaza. Ambrosio Tut, a gum-sapper, had been the first to arrive at the site. He reported his finding to Modesto Mendez. A Guatemalan newspaper (La Gaceta) first published the report, which named the site Tikal, or Place of Voices in the Maya Itzá language. The report was then published in the Berlin Academy of Sciences’ Magazine, in 1853. Thus began an era of exploration, as many European and American treasure hunters and scientists arrived at the site.John Carmichael visited Tikal in 1869, 1890 and 1903. In 1877 Gustave Bernouilli, from Switzerland, removed several of the lintels carved on sapodilla wood that adorned Temples IV and I, while on a botanic expedition. These may now be appreciated in Basel’s Ethnological (Völkerkunde) Museum, except for 2 small fragments housed at the British Museum in London.Sir Alfred Percival Maudslay, who was the first man to draw a map of Tikal, took these 2 fragments to England. Maudslay, who visited Tikal in 1881 and 82, was also the first ever to make photographs (the camera had been recently invented) at the site after removing the vegetation that had grown on the Grand Plaza for over 1,000 years. He had all the necessary permits from the Guatemalan Government. He made the Five Story Palace, in the Central Acropolis, his home while in Tikal. Sir Alfred Maudslay’s contributions to Maya archaeology are numerous and far-reaching. The Guatemalan Government asked him to field an expedition to a site on the Usumacinta River of which very little was known and authorized him to take the lintels of Macanche for their own protection. (Macanche was later renamed Yaxchilan.) Maudslay spread awareness on the Maya civilization amongst the scientific community of his time, and convinced publishers Osbert Salvin and F. Ducane Godman to allow a valuable addition to the famous scientific series of the day. This addition consisted on the 4 Maya Archaeology volumes added to Biologia Centrali Americana’s 87 volumes published in London at the end of the XIX Century. In a retrospective view, we could comfortably say that Maudslay is the father of Maya Archaeology. (Ian Graham, of the University of Harvard is currently writing Maudslay’s biography.)
Shortly thereafter, Sylvanus Griswold Morley, of Carnegie Institution, made five visits to the site between 1914 and 1937. He focused on the study and decipherment of the Maya hieroglyphs inscribed on monuments.According to an interview with Erwin Shook the dig at Tikal was scheduled to start in the 1940s. However, the Social Revolution of 1944 in Guatemala delayed the project until 1956.
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