Expeditions and Discoveries Sponsored Exploration and Scientific Discovery in the Modern Age

Carnegie Institution/Peabody Museum Expeditions to Kaminaljuyú, Guatemala, 1935–1953

Between 1935 and 1953, the Carnegie Institution of Washington excavated Kaminaljuyú and established it as one the most significant archaeological Pre-Columbian sites in Mesoamerica. Kaminaljuyú (meaning, in the Quiché language, "Hills of the Dead") grew from an agricultural community (ca. 2500 BCE) in the central highlands of Guatemala to become a large ceremonial site and political Maya capital that flourished until about 800 CE.

Multidisciplinary research between 1936 and 1942 by such American archaeologists as Alfred V. Kidder, Jesse D. Jennings, and Edwin M. Shook uncovered numerous ball courts, stelae, shrines, and funerary temple mounds. Excavations of Temple Mounds A and B established Kaminaljuyú’s chronological development, social organization, and interactions with various regional civilizations, such as the Teotihuacan. Further excavations in the 1950s of Mound D-III-13 by Heinrich Berlin and of Mound E-III-3 by Shook and Kidder confirmed Kaminaljuyú’s preeminent role in social and cultural development of Mayan culture.

Selected Manuscripts and Records in Expeditions and Discoveries


The following sources were used in writing this page.

  • Braswell, Geoffrey E.Ed. The Maya and Teotihuacan: Reinterpreting Early Classic Interaction. Austin: University of Texas Press, 2003.
  • Coe, Michael D. The Maya. New York: Thames and Hudson, 2005.
  • Jennings, Jesse D. Accidental Archaeologist. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1994.
  • Kidder, Alfred V., Jesse D. Jennings, Edwin M. Shook. Excavations at Kaminaljuyú, Guatemala. University Park: Pennsylvania State University Press, [1977?].
  • Morley, Sylvanus Griswold. The Ancient Maya. California: Stanford University, Calif., [1946].
  • Shook, Edwin M. and Alfred V. Kidder. "Mound E-III-3, Kaminaljuyú, Guatemala." In Contributions to American Anthropology and History, Vol. 9 (53) (1952):33–127. Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication 596. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, D.C.
  • Weeks, John M. and Jane A. Hill. The Carnegie Maya: the Carnegie Institution of Washington Maya Research Program, 1913–1957. Boulder: University Press of Colorado, 2006.