"Here is one volunteer working with FLAAR inside the Sculpture Museum at Copan Ruinas, Honduras, December 2008. FLAAR is renowned for its sophisticated digital camera equipment for recording Maya archaeology, artifacts, iconography, and epigraphy, as well as its knowledge of advanced digital printing (for exhibits and museum displays) For December 2009 onwards our projects will occasionally include 3D scanning and we are interested in 3D visualization software for architectural presentations."
Positions available for volunteers to assist in research on Maya art, especially iconography and hieroglyphic inscriptions. We are also interested in programs on tropical flora and fauna, especially economic botany of the Maya.
This is not a dig; there is no treasure hunting. This is a scholarly project in the FLAAR office in Guatemala City. Most of the research involves digital photography but as much in ethno-botany and ethno-zoology as in archaeology.
Volunteers cover their own expenses (airfare, housing, meals, etc.) and especially their own insurance: medical insurance must include air ambulance service... standard insurance for travelers that flies you back home if you get bitten by the BerryBerry Bug.
You must read the U.S. State Dept. description of travel to Guatemala and Central America. Guatemala is conservative and the universities tend to be conservative as well. Drugs are not tolerated, for example.
You will get a learning experience that no university, no college course or seminar outside of the Maya area can possibly provide. You will work with sophisticated digital imaging equipment and studio photography equipment. It is not expected that you know how to use this equipment in advance, but you do need to know (in advance) how to use a Macintosh OS X and how to use Adobe Photoshop version 6, 7, or CS. There are plenty of books on Photoshop to learn from.
We are also interested in individuals who can help update our Maya archaeology website and publications. This requires learning Adobe Photoshop ver 7 or CS, and either Macromedia Dreamweaver or Adobe inDesign. We do not use Quark Xpress (it is a good program but we don't use it).
If you are a scientific illustrator, we have a need for individuals to illustrate our publications on digital imaging equipment, especially on inkjet printers.
If you survive these hurdles and still wish to volunteer, please e-mail us.
The FLAAR facilities are pleasant, with our ethnobotanical gardens surrounding the house where our office is located. There are several species of plants used in Maya divination (incense and palo de pito), several Maya food plants, and other species of interest to Mayan ethnobotany.
Alen (Volunteer from University of Ljubljana), Eduardo (staff photographer at FLAAR) and Mirtha (biologist working at FLAAR) on a field trip in Alta Verapaz, Guatemala.
FAQ Frequently Asked Questions.
What does it cost to live in Guatemala City?Living (housing) however not as cheap as we wish, in part because the office is in the absolutely nicest part of a large city and mostly because, as a foreigner, it is not easy to live in the low-rent areas of the city. $200 a month, minimum, should be budgeted; better would be to budget a bit more. However your biggest expense is transportation back and forth from where you live, as bus service is not reliable.
What about Spanish language courses?It is not required that you speak Spanish when you arrive but it would make sense to learn while you are in Guatemala. However keep in mind that an archaeology or digital imaging or printing volunteer position is full-time. This is not the appropriate manner to learn Spanish most of the day and volunteer in the leftover hours. If you are agile you can learn Spanish while helping out with the project. The Spanish courses in Antigua are too far away to commute daily (but are a good place to learn Spanish before or after your stint in Guatemala City).
How can I see in advance what this Maya art study project involves? Peruse the sites of the FLAAR network,
This program in Maya art is devoted to iconography, epigraphy, and style, especially of Peten Maya ceramic art: Early Classic, Late Classic, and Terminal Late Classic. PreClassic is not as crucial here because this program is interested in figural and non-figural decoration. Most PreClassic pots had no such decoration (they are important, but not for iconography). ProtoClassic pottery, however, is included due to the decorative form of the mammiform supports and the peccary supports that develop in the following century.
Teotihuacan influence on Maya art, and especially Teotihuacan influence on the art of the Tiquisate (non-Maya) portion of Guatemala, is a featured part of all FLAAR Photo Archive research.
In epigraphy, main interest is finding and photographing Primary Standard Sequences that have not previously been available to epigraphers to study.
In recent years most of our research has been on the iconography of plants and animals, especially cacao, flavorings for cacao, incense (the plants that provide the resin that make incense), squash, ceiba trees, water lily, crocodiles, turtles, iguanas, felines, etc.
For 2009-2010 FLAAR will initiate projects in 3D scanning, of both artifacts and sculpture. We are especially interested in 3D visualization of Mayan architecture. If you are interested in a thesis or dissertation on wide-format inkjet printing, RIP software, industrial applications, signage or display, workflow software, color management, media and substrates, we too are interested. FLAAR is one of the largest resources in the world for wide-format inkjet printing.
Tina (Volunteer from University of Ljubljana, Slovenia) next to a special scanner in the office of IB-ProCADD (Ljubljana) receiving training before flying to Guatemala to work with FLAAR both in Guatemala and Honduras.
Costs & Expenses
There are three ways to volunteer:
1st: you cover all your personal expenses (airfare, room, meals, local transporation). This is easiest if we have not met you before. Thus neither side really knows what to expect. During your volunteer period you assist in the projects of that period.
2nd: you cover all expenses and pay a reasonable fee for training and experience (as you would with a summer course or any program). The difference is that our programs are not commercial, are not in classroom format: we learn by doing, out on location. Selecting option #2 is really the best if you wish training in digital photography (we do panoramic photography, circumferential rollouts of Mayan vases, artifact photography, field photography of tropical plants and animals). FLAAR only rarely does portrait photography, but we do have all the equipment both for studio and on-location portrait photography. If being honest, that what you really want is training and experience from FLAAR (especially in digital photography with our equipment), it is understandable that costs should be shared, namely we provide the experience, you provide the funding.
3rd: Classification #3 is primarily if your thesis topic is on a topical that FLAAR is also working on. It can be pre-Columbian or digital technology or software. It can be digital photography, or digital imaging software (preferably in addition to Photoshop), or printing workflow or MIS software, or 3D scanning, 3D visualization. If you are doing a thesis or term paper or other work project (internship, for example) as long as there is a realistic opportunity for FLAAR Reports to publish material that results from your work during and within two years after your volunteer position, then we can consider providing airfare, room, board, and local transporation, in addition to training.
Alen again, on the stairs either at Tikal or Yaxha archaeological park, El Peten, Guatemala. Volunteers get to participate both in field trips and in-house photography projects (our photo studios are naturally in our office facilities as well as portable).
if we have met you at a symposium, trade show, exposition, seminar; or if you have visited our office in St Louis or Guatemala, or if you are a classmate of a previous volunteer, it is easier for both sides to gauge the mutual benefits.
If you are doing a thesis, and using FLAAR networking, access, resources, funding, or comparable benefits of working with FLAAR, we will need a reasonable output of material that we can use in FLAAR Reports long before an actual thesis or dissertation is finished. And yes, obviously if the work is all yours it goes under your name. Reports are co-authored or listed with an additional person as editor which such is appropriate.
So FLAAR will cover your round trip airfare and basic expenses if both during the period you work as a volunteer and in the reasonable period afterwards when you are back home and/or back at your university, that you continue to provide FLAAR with material to publish based on research that received input via FLAAR.
If after your volunteer period, you do not provide a reasonable amount of adequate quality material for publication, it would be expected and appreciated that you repay the travel costs and some of the expenses incurred by FLAAR during your volunteer period.
In all cases you need to cover all your own medical costs and all your own insurance.