Maya Exploration Center: Education Through Exploration
Architectural analysis sometimes involves observations of the sky. Students of ancient Maya astronomy have found dozens of structures across the Maya world that served as observatories. The Maya later recorded their observations of the sun, moon, and stars in hieroglyphic books and stone inscriptions. But the most dramatic testament to their astronomical achievements can still be witnessed in their monumental architecture. Discovering the solar orientations of Palenque's temples, along with references to celestial phenomena in the texts and iconography, is leading toward a new interpretation of the architecture, art, and geomantic layout of the site.

Our staff has been at the forefront of these discoveries. MEC now plans to conduct extensive observational studies at other Classic Maya sites. During the solstices, equinoxes, and zenith passages, we will use the latest laser transit equipment to measure the precise solar alignments of major architectural structures. Then, relying on naked-eye observations, as the Maya did, we will record the dramatic interplay between architecture and the light.

Here's a few of our online publications about ancient Maya astronomy:

A New View on Maya Astronomy (.99 MB PDF)
by Christopher Powell
Astronomical Observations at the Temple of the Sun (3.48 MB PDF)
by Alonso Mendez, Ed Barnhart, Christopher Powell, and Carol Karasik

Exploration and Mapping

Sacred Geometry of Art and Architecture


Art Replication and Architectural Reconstruction Studies
Suggested reading books can be bought at JungleCasts with Dr. Barnhart