University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology


Author: Ruben E. Reina

The Ritual of the Skull in Peten, Guatemala

Photo of woman making pottery

By: Ruben E. Reina

The history of the Department of Peten in Guatemala has unique features when compared to the rest of Mesoamerica. These people are descendants of the Maya of Yucatan; more specifically descendants of the Itza who migrated to Peten traditionally in the early 13th century. Unconquered until 1697 and subject to a delayed colonization program, this […]


The Potter and The Farmer

The Fate of Two Innovators in a Maya Village

By: Ruben E. Reina

Chinautla is a small Maya town of approximately 1500 people, descendants of the Pokomam-speaking group which once occupied large portions of the southwestern part of the Guatemalan highlands. Today only a few thousand of these people are living in a handful of villages surrounded by Spanish and other Maya-speaking people. The Chinautlecos are located only […]


A Peninsula That May Have Been An Island

Tayasal, Peten, Guatemala.

By: Ruben E. Reina

Since the beginning of this century archaeologists and scientists in related disciplines have looked for clues and facts relating to the Maya occupation of Central Peten. The heavy forest area to the north of Late Peten-Itza and the savanna area to the south show signs of heavy population. The number of house mounds and the […]


Sixteenth Century Guatemala

Archivos de Indias, Seville

By: Ruben E. Reina

After several decades of archaeological and ethnographic field work in the Maya area, the need to study, from an ethnographic viewpoint, the large collection of 16th and 17th century documents lodged in the Archivos de Indias has become apparent. During the first few centuries of Spanish conquest and colonization in America, millions of documents were […]


Ethnohistory and Archaeology in Colonial Antigua, Guatemala

By: Ruben E. Reina and Annette B. Weiner and Edward O'Flaherty, S.J.

The visitor to modern Antigua, Guatemala, receives the impression that he is stepping back into the Colonial period. The ruins left by the fateful earthquake of 1773, the Colonial-style homes, and the cobblestone streets testify to the physical grandeur of Antigua’s past. Many cul­tural elements, less visible than the ruins but equally significant, developed during […]


The Sacred World of the Maya

Costumbre and Religion in Guatelmala

By: Ruben E. Reina

Dedicated to my friend and former student, Edwin C. Buxbaum Nothing is more real than the real; and that is why it is well for men to hurt themselves with the past—it is one road to tolerance. (L. Eiseley 1971:85) In the 15th century adventurous Iberian men crossed an unknown ocean, guided only by the faith […]


The Ways of The Maya

Salt Production in Sacapulas, Guatemala

By: Ruben E. Reina and John Monaghan

Guatemalans of Maya ancestry, living in rural communities, possess a wide variety of skills and technologies for the manu­facture of domestically needed items. Men and women of each community are known throughout the highlands for the production of one or two of these articles, which are distributed through a well-established market system. Whether the specialty […]


A Maya Teacher

A Day of Fieldwork in the Mountains of Guatemala

By: Ruben E. Reina

Dedicated to the memory of Geral­dine Bruckner. April days in the year 1955 were extremely dry. Thin dust floated over us. The sky was opaque with a brownish color from the burning of the many maize fields in the region. The dryness of the land affected the Maya people’s thoughts. One morning I found Dona Maria […]