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The 2,100 photographs of this archive are stored at CEMCA, in the form of silver negatives, and are originally contacts attached to card index, on which a certain amount of information about the shot and its context can be found. The contacts were digitized around 2010 and were uploaded by CEMCA on HAL in 2014/2016.

These photographs are part of the data obtained as part of three French archaeological projects carried out in Mexico between 1973 and 1986.

Río Verde Project (1973-1975)

The Río Verde "plain" in the state of San Luis Potosi (Mexico), highlands (around 1,000 m above sea level) located to the west of the Huasteca Potosina coastal plain, was inhabited during a part of its pre-Hispanic history by sedentary, agricultural societies of Mesoamerican tradition. In the early 1970s, although the existence of a few archaeological remains had been reported, the rhythms and reasons for the area's Mesoamerican settlement remained to be understood on a regional scale.

The project covered an oval zone of around 3,600 km2, where 131 settlements were recorded. The study of the material collected, on the surface and by stratigraphic pits in seven of the sites (including more than 100,000 sherds and 2,000 figurines - fragmentary or complete), as well as the analysis of settlements and maps of the nine zones prospected, enabled to approach several of the modalities of the expansion of Mesoamerican lifestyles in the region. This expansion, which is by no means marginal contrary to current belief, began around the 3rd century AD and continued until around 1000, peaking around 700 AD. In its early days, the region was in contact with north-central Veracruz, the central highlands (Teotihuacan) and Huasteca. It was "colonized" from the south-east, where the region's most important site (RV.120, San Rafael-Sur) was located, acting as a kind of "exchange port". Research also shed light on when and how Mesoamerican life in the region came to an end, i.e., the perhaps misnamed "retraction" of Mesoamerica frontier to the south.

For more information:

Michelet, Dominique, Río Verde, San Luis Potosí, Instituto de cultura de San Luis Potosí/Lascasiana/CEMCA, México, 1996.

Toniná Project (1973-1979)

Oldest french archaeological project in the Maya region of Mexico, carried out as part of the Mission Archéologique et Ethnologique Française au Mexique and then the CEMCA, this research program led by Claude Baudez and Pierre Becquelin, and later by Becquelin and Eric Taladoire, was largely exploratory of this important Chiapas site. Transitional between highlands and lowlands, it revealed sculpture of exceptional scope and quality, marked by royal and warrior themes. The iconography and epigraphy of these monuments, the monumental architecture, the settlement structures of the site and its valley, the chronological sequence, the ball playing structure and funerary practices have been systematically defined. Toniná, conqueror (in the 8th century) of the large neighboring site of Palenque, was continuously occupied from the beginning of the first millennium until the Postclassic period, a rare longevity in the Maya area.

For more information:

Becquelin, Pierre et Claude F. Baudez, Toniná, une cité maya du Chiapas, Tomes I, II, III, IV, Collection Études Mésoaméricaines 6, MAEFM, Mexico, 1979, 1982, 1990.

Consult other photographs of Toniná project digitalized by NumArchAm

Michoacán I Project (1983-1987)

The Michoacán I project, coordinated by Dominique Michelet, marks the start of work in the Zacapu region of north-central Michoacán. Research carried out on a regional scale (1000 km2) has enabled to reveal 366 settlements, and a continuous chronological sequence covering the 1600 years preceding the Conquest for the first time in the region. These results have made possible to outline the evolution of the pre-Hispanic societies that inhabited the region in the centuries preceding the formation of the Tarascan state and the Purépecha culture.

This collection of photos comes from fieldwork carried out between 1983 and 1986. A team of archaeological researchers from CEMCA carried out intensive surveys and excavations at sites identified by a number (preceded by "Mich.") and a name.

Among these sites are the numerous concentrations of surface archaeological material found on a former island in the "Ciénaga de Zacapu" (a lake drained at the end of the 19th century), numbered but not named, with the exception of two intensively excavated necropolis, Mich. 215 named Guadalupe and Mich. 66 named Loma Alta. They are all located on "Les Lomas" (the ancient island) around the present-day village of Cantabria, in the Municipio-Ejido de Zacapu.

For more information:

Michelet, Dominique (éd.), 1992, El Proyecto Michoacán 1983-1987. Medio ambiente e introducción a los trabajos arqueológicos. CEMCA, México.

Consult other photographs of Michoacán I-II-III / Zacapu projects digitalized by NumArchAm

Collection manager: Juliette Testard (CNRS- ArchAm); banner design: Sylvie Eliès (CNRS- ArchAm).