FAMSI and its Legacy on AncientAmericas.org

The non-profit Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc., or FAMSI, was created in 1993 to promote the investigation of topics related to ancient Mesoamerican art history, anthropology, archaeology, epigraphy, history, and linguistics. The foundation sought to advance understanding of the region and widely disseminate available research to students, scholars, and the interested public. Most importantly, the foundation strove to transcend cultural and linguistic barriers dividing students and scholars working internationally; this provided the impetus in 1997 to create famsi.org, the first publicly available website dedicated to the study of ancient Mesoamerica. Thanks to the generous contributions of noted scholars, the website was populated with digitized images of painted codices, indigenous language dictionaries, hieroglyphic study guides, maps of the region, and lesson plans for teachers of all levels, from elementary to university. In 2000 the foundation translated the site and made it available in both Spanish and English. 

In 2010 LACMA began to maintain, update, transform, and expand the resources of famsi.org on a new platform, AncientAmericas.org, which also strives to transcend cultural, disciplinary, and linguistic borders and provide the highest level research and information on the Ancient Americas. The image databases such as the Linda Schele drawings archive and the Mexican codices have been retooled to adhere to contemporary standards of digitization and have been re-catalogued to improve searchability. The Bibliografía Mesoamericana, FAMSI’s specialized bibliography, continues to undergo improvements; we look forward to launching it soon. 

Broadening beyond the famsi.org focus on Mesoamerica, AncientAmericas.org embraces the whole of the Americas and seeks to publish information on topics related to the entire region. 

Featured Image: FAMSI Board Meeting, 1997 (the last one attended by Linda Schele, prior to her death in spring of 1998), gathering near a reproduction of Machaquila Stela 4. From Left: David Freidel, Dorie Budet, Ron Bishop, Karl Taube, Mary Miller (kneeling).  Linda Schele, Sandy Noble, Lewis Ranieri, Betty Benson, Barbara Kerr, Justin Kerr, Marilyn Goldstein, Dick Diehl, David Schele. Photo courtesy of Sandra Noble.