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Middle American Research Institute


About the Middle American Research Institute

Founded in 1924, the Middle American Research Institute (M.A.R.I.) at Tulane University strives to promote greater understanding of the vibrant and diverse cultures of Middle America. It stewards an extensive collection of textiles, artifacts, and an archive of letters, field notes, maps, and photographs from the scores of field projects it has sponsored and continues to sponsor. We strive to make these accessible to researchers and the general public through a variety of exhibitions, workshops, and symposia.

Furthermore, M.A.R.I. continues to support anthropological, archaeological, ethnohistorical, linguistic, and ethnographic research projects throughout Mexico and Central America.

  • Next M.A.R.I. Lunch Talk:
    September 22nd, 2023
    (more information)

    MARI Brown bag flyer

    Explore the Lunch Talks Archive.

  • MARI Virtual Tour

    M.A.R.I. Gallery Virtual Tour

    M.A.R.I. Gallery

    Explore our exhibits:

    "Faces of the Maya: Profiles in Continuity and Resilience" takes viewers on a journey through time, showcasing the development of the Maya civilization from 1000 BC to the present. The exhibit uses objects from the M.A.R.I collections in an attempt to dispel erroneous notions of the Maya civilization.

    "Making M.A.R.I." explores the rich history of the Middle American Research Institute since the 1920s. As a constituent of Tulane University's campus, M.A.R.I. plays an integral role in maintaining Tulane's long-standing connection with Latin America and has conducted nearly a century of research in Mesoamerica. In this exhibit, we examine M.A.R.I.'s legacy of research and outline the Institute's trajectory for the next hundred years.

    Start the tour

Panama Canal Exhibit poster
M.A.R.I. Online Exhibits

The Middle American Research Institute is excited to announce that our new intern-designed photo exhibit is now available online!

M.A.R.I. interns have the opportunity to work with and research the Institute’s archival and artifact collections. The culmination of their hard work is an online exhibit available through Tulane’s library website. These exhibits cover a wide range of topics showcasing the people and material culture of Mesoamerica.

Now you can view the exhibit, Bridging Two Oceans: The Complex Legacy of the Panama Canal , from the comfort of your home.

Our collection of online exhibits and some of our past are also available.

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Brown Bag Green
M.A.R.I. Lunch Talks

M.A.R.I. Lunch Talks invite guest speakers to host seminars at MARI on a wide variety of topics related to the archaeology, history, and ethnography of Mesoamerica and other world areas. The events typically take place on Fridays around noon and can be delivered in English and Spanish. Light lunch is provided.

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MARI and the Stone Center engaging in outreach programs
Tulane University visits Lafourche Parish during Indigenous Day

On October 7, 2022, M.A.R.I. with the assistance of The Stone Center coordinated their first outreach program to two of Lafourche Parish’s Elementary Schools: South Larose Elementary (SLES) and Cut Off Elementary (COES). Tulane’s Maya scholar and teacher of Kaqchikel Ixnal Ambrocia Cuma presented an illustrated story about Maya culture and her experiences growing up as a Maya woman. Through the story of Amalia, a girl who wants to become a teacher, students learned about Maya cosmovision and their sacred relationships with nature. Ixnal showed her handmade Mayan textile clothing and gave a short weaving demonstration while discussing its social and religious meanings. M.A.R.I. Archives Manager Emily Davis-Hale explained to the students the importance of historical writing and calendrics for the ancient Maya.

A special thank you to the 5th-grade teachers at Cut Off Elementary: Rebecca Comeaux, Bridget Allen, and Angelle Messer, the South Larose Elementary School: Principal Dana Gros, Guidance Counselor Margo Polkey, Vice Principal Scarlet Griffin, and teachers Hailey Kiger, Angelle Galjour, and Katie Pinell. We would also like to thank Mr. Barry Orgeron for his financial contribution to make this day possible.

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GIS team
Sharing New Technology to Uncover the Past

Three members of Tulane's anthropology department—Marcello Canuto, Professor and M.A.R.I. Director, Luke Auld-Thomas, PhD candidate, and Francisco Estrada-Belli, Research Assistant Professor—discuss the recent expansion of their Geographic Information Systems Technology Lab (GISLAB), which has become a hub for worldwide collaboration in anthropological technology advancement.

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Publication 73 cover
Announcing our new publication: Archaeological Reconnaissance in Eastern Campeche, Mexico

Publication 73, Archaeological Reconnaissance in Eastern Campeche, Mexico: Chactun, Tamchen, and Lagunita

Editor: Ivan Šprajc

This edited volume summarizes recent research and archaeological investigations at the Maya sites of Chactun, Tamchen, and Lagunita, Campeche, Mexico, located in an area previously little-known to researchers. Situated between the Chenes architectural region to the north, and the Río Bec region to the south, this intermediate zone shares many features of the surrounding areas, but there is also evidence that suggests affinities with more distant regions. Data from aerial photographs and lidar mapping reveal a densely occupied and highly modified landscape. The volume includes site descriptions, a discussion of the zoomorphic façade at Lagunita, an analysis of the sites’ ceramics, documentation of stelae and altars, and examination of a possible ceremonial offering. The book features extensive photos and illustrations, including 28 beautiful color plates.

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