Art & Art History ETDs

Publication Date



The discovery of hieroglyphic artists' signatures on monuments of the Classic Maya represents a turning point for the study of Precolum­bian art. As key elements in the retrieval of artists from long-standing conditions of anonymity, artists' signatures theoretically afford the scholar an opportunity to follow the careers and sculptural repertoire of individual artists, allowing recognition of the artist's style over time and on unsigned monuments. However. while various studies have tried to identify individual sculptors solely on the basis of style, to date no pro­ject working in the medium of stone monuments has explored the rela­tionship between signatures and style, despite the discovery of artists' signatures more than a decade ago.

The present thesis tracks the stylistic relationship between sig­natures and style on monuments carved at the Classic Maya regional capital of Piedras Negras, Guatemala. As such, it focuses on the production of monuments during the reign of the last known dynast at the site, Ruler 7 (AD 785 to c. 795), when sculptors regularly signed more than one monument apiece and signatures reached the greatest level of frequency in the history of Maya public art.

The thesis tests the validity of the original identification of artists' signatures by exploring both the style of individual monuments from the Piedras Negras polity and the "handwriting" of individual signatures. With this as its principal goal, the thesis examines the correlation be­tween the sculptural style of the signatures and the monuments on which these occur. On a broader scale, the thesis goes on to explore within the context of special stylistic circumstances at Piedras Negras the larger issues of artists' social position in Maya civilization in general and at Piedras Negras in particular. In addition. through epigraphic anal­ysis of the hieroglyphic components of artists' signatures--in particular hieroglyphic nominal and titular elements--the thesis examines the pos­sibility of a relationship between status and the stylistic methods of individual artists.

Project Sponsors

Tinker Foundation; Latin American Institute; UNM Office of Graduate Studies



Document Type


Degree Name

Art History

Level of Degree


Department Name

UNM Department of Art and Art History

First Committee Member (Chair)

Flora S. Clancy

Second Committee Member

Christiane Joost-Gaugier

Third Committee Member

Martin Facey


Volume 1 at the download button. Volume 2 in two parts, below.

Volume 2, Part 1 -- Chapters 11 and 12, References, Tables, Maps

Volume 2, Part 2 -- Figures