Alfred Maudslay was a respected diplomat, but he would be best remembered for
his work as an amateur Mayanist. Fascinated by scholars'
writings on the Maya and by new advancements in photography, Maudslay set out
to create as complete a record as possible of the civilization's
architecture and art. Using a large-format, glass-plate camera, he captured
highly detailed images of Maya sites, including clear close-ups of the glyphs
(above). He also prepared papier-mâché casts of several carvings from
which accurate drawings were later made. Maudslay had effectively given Maya studies its first systematic corpus, or body, of inscriptions. This
helped make further decipherments possible, in part by bringing glyphs to
scholars who had limited access to the few surviving Maya texts.