This is the Denver-resident half of a pair of panels, which together tell a story of the still-lost Maya kingdom of Sak Tz’i’ (White Dog). We know the name of the site from inscriptions on the panels, it was once one of a number of kingdoms that battled along today’s Guatemala – Mexico border. But while we know the site’s name, and the rough area in which it was located (since its name glyph appears throughout the area), no one knows the location of Sak Tz’i’.
Such is the ambivalent nature of many ancient artifacts you can see in museums today. You get to see the artifacts, but many were ultimately purchased from looters (and by continuing such purchases, museums in the more-affluent parts of the world perpetuate the vicious cycle). By removing the panels from their original site, looters destroyed evidence about the site’s history.
The Denver Museum of Nature and Science is a fun place to skulk around in, should you ever be in town. Aside from all the great natural history material on display, the building itself has been added on to more times than I can count — leading to some interesting interior architecture.
I made this image in one of the building’s atriums (atria?), that once was a courtyard but since has been closed in and covered with a glass roof. Polished metallic wall tiles lead to interesting reflections and intersecting geometries.
If you’re about ready for a little break from all things Maya, here’s a shot from the Denver Museum of Nature and Science — it’s of a miniature carving (roughly 10″ tall) by Vasily Konovalenko titled “Painter:”
If you’re wondering why miniature sculpture is in a natural history museum, it’s because Konovalenko’s carvings are entirely made from gemstones. Here’s this little guy’s bill of materials from the placard: