Maya Exploration Center Director Dr. Ed Barnhart has over two decades of
experience in Mesoamerica as an archaeologist, an explorer and an instructor. He is a Fellow of the Explorers Club, has
published many papers and appeared in over a dozen documentaries about ancient Maya civilization. His involvement in
Maya studies began in 1990 as an archaeological intern in the ruins of Copan, Honduras. In January of 1996 he was invited to
return to Copan and help the University of Pennsylvania excavate the early acropolis and the tomb of the city's lineage founder.
From 1992-1995 he had been studying art, iconography and epigraphy (hieroglyphic translation) under the late Dr. Linda Schele
at the University of Texas at Austin. During that same time he worked across the state of Texas as a contract archaeologist.
In 1994 he began working as a surveyor and a UT field school instructor in the jungles of Northwestern Belize. After
finding numerous small villages, Dr. Barnhart discovered the ancient city of Ma'ax Na (Monkey House), a major center of
the Classic Maya Period. He mapped over 600 structures at Ma'ax Na between 1995 and 1997 before moving his research focus
to Chiapas, Mexico. Also while in Belize, Dr. Barnhart worked with the Belize Post Classic Project mapping the island of Caye
Coco and excavating a series of burials on an island in Laguna de On.
Dr. Barnhart received his Masters degree in May of 1996 and began teaching Anthropology classes at Southwest Texas State University
the following September. He taught Archaeology and Anthropology classes at SWTS until 1998 when he was invited by the Mexican
government to direct the Palenque Mapping Project.
The Palenque Mapping Project was a three-year effort to survey and map the unknown sections of Palenque's ruins. Over 1100
new structures were documented, bringing the site total to almost 1500. The resultant map has been celebrated as one of
the most detailed and accurate ever made of a Maya ruin. He received a Ph.D. from the University of Texas at Austin in 2001
with his dissertation entitled The Palenque Mapping Project: Settlement
Patterns and Urbanism in An Ancient Maya City