Worlds Collide: Art history and materials science in the Yucatán

Entrance to Cloister (Porteria), Monastery of San Antonio de Padua, Izamal. Credit: Photography by Emily C. Floyd for MAVCOR. Reproduccíon autorizada por el Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), Mexico. All Rights Reserved.
In the summer of 1991, 13-year-old Amara Solari set off on a more than 3,000-mile family trip from the Napa Valley in California to the Yucatán Peninsula in Mexico. In a rented Volkswagen bus, Solari, her parents and her sister toured the tropical destination that would become not only an enduring source of wonderment and discovery, but eventually the focal point of Solari's academic research. For the last five years, Solari, now professor of art history and anthropology at Penn State, has led a research team on an historical and, unexpectedly, scientific journey in the Yucatán. Working closely with colleague Linda Williams of the University of Puget Sound, she has scoured the peninsula to identify, document, interpret and analyze murals painted inside churches by Maya Christian artists more than 400 years ago, combining art history and cutting-edge materials science in the only known cohesive study of these fragile artworks. Solari's affinity for the Yucatán resurfaced shortly after she earned a bachelor's degree in anthropology in 2000 from the University of California, Berkeley. She spent a couple of field seasons after graduation on archaeological digs in Honduras, but her thoughts kept drifting back to that family trip and a place she still felt connected to. [embed][/embed] Click here to read the full story.

Schools and Departments: Department of Art History
Unit Research: A&A Sustainability
Architecture Clusters: Sustainability (SUS)