Ponencia realizada por Mtra. Haydeé López Hernández en el marco del The Gordon R. Willey Simposium in the History of Archaeology realizado por The Society for American Archaeology 71st Annual Meeting en San Juan de Puerto Rico el 29 de Abril de 2006. Co-organizadores: Daniel Schávelzon y Eleanor King.
Reading cosmogonies in stone: Enrique Juan Palacios (1881-1953) and iconographic studies. Enrique Juan Palacios Mendoza was one of the first archaeologists who toiled institutionally in Mexico after the revolution. His participation in Porfirian intellectual circles brought him to the study of the pre-Columbian cultures and enabled him to enter the National Museum of Archaeology, History and Ethnography, and begin his career as an archaeologist. Although, during his professional life, he worked on diverse problems and areas of study, Palacios focused on reading colonial sources and precolumbian glyphs. He thus maintained thus close relations and discussions with his colleagues in Mexico, the United States and even Germany. This presentation reviews some of hiss theoretical positions, works, and polemics.
Disponible también su versión en español.
The history of archaeology in Mexico has had an hagiographic vision that leaves out the presence and importance of several figures, their practices, their questions and their readings, in order to homogenize the discipline based upon the present with no critic and that no longer recognizes its own diversity.
This text tries to demonstrate a part of the complexity that integrates the history of our discipline. In the following lines I briefly outline the work of the archeologist Enrique Juan Palacios Mendoza (1881-1953) and his proposal in the archaeological practice, in order to prove that this personage was an active member of the archaeological community of his epoch, and that his way of working, the reading of sources, has been a very important element in the pre-Hispanic Mexican studies field.
In the fist half of the 20th century, Archaeology was consider an autonomous discipline which depended on the Post Revolution National State, that after the creation of the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH) achieves his institutional centralization in 1939. In most of the histories ever written about this discipline, this institutionalization process has been the axe to explain its development as a professional practice. When narrating this progression in the archaeological field, so many authors have assumed the analytical parameters in classical philosophy and those of the official Post Revolution history chronology. By this manner, a chronological narrative of the epistemic advance of this discipline is exposed with the purpose of establishing a demarcation criteria -between the so-called amateur practice and the specialized professional knowledge, which culminates with the archaeological institutionalization
Based upon this point of view, we can determine that the milestone in the scientific archaeological practice has been delimited within the bounds of the Mexican Post Revolution and it is centered in its methodological advances that took place in that period of time. The stratigraphic application in the Teotihuacan Valley Project, directed by Manuel Gamio Martinez (1883-1960) between 1917 and 1922, is seen as an icon in the beginning of archaeology as a science. Whit this event we can date the birth of this discipline: it has been considered the beginning of the scientific practice in Mexico, and also the beginning of the Mexican archaeological community and tradition.
Therefore, the definition of archaeology was established not only by the materials they worked with (cultural remains specially ceramic) and the societies objects of study (pre-Hispanic), but also by its investigation practice, which includes the excavation work and the stratigraphic methodology With this, it is possible to assume that the quality of the technique used in this method of working confers objectivity to the data, and that it was also possible to achieve the epistemic transformation of the discipline and the scientific quality was guaranteed.
During this process in which the archaeology has been finally consider a scientific discipline, the autonomy of the field and its separation from the historic and anthropological area have been considered a natural part of the general specialization process in scientific and social knowledge during the period of modernity in Mexico . Institutionalization has been likewise seen trough the political projects surged in the Mexican Post Revolution period, such as the ideological and nationalist implications.
The attachment of these narratives to the epistemic analysis and to the official history, requires however the omission and the concealment of the diversity and complexity that we can find placed over the process described. When committed to a lineal and upward (evolutionary) regard, such histories build genealogies in which the present is placed as the unique possible peak, and also create several hagiographic episodes that veil the regard of everything which is away from them.
Looking back through history, we can see how archaeology is presented as an entity which by its own nature is independent from others knowledge fields (epistemology and methodology) like history and anthropology, and how it is also revealed as an imperturbable body in social and political situations that surround it, even apart from the subjects which integrate it. With this perspective, the academic practices and their variety have been omitted for being considered as incidents with nothing or little relevance with no future because of their lack of scientific practices. People who had proposed different procedures to the first stratigraphic essays in Mexico have been also considered like “secondary figures” with no participation in the scientific and professional development of archaeology -the current one, being their work considered as made by amateurs, as nineteenth-century practices, or “miscellaneous”.
Such omissions give rise to new questions on the building of the scientific community during this period of time and on the development of their practices. The reflection based upon the sociological, historical, and philosophical analysis is a very attractive way to observe and question the social knowledge and its development as well as its implications into different spheres (the public, economic, social, etc.), the scientific communities configuration, its social behavior, its relationship with the non-scientific environment and also the construction of epistemic practices and their traditions.
Yet, talking about the gestation processes and scientific traditions as well as sociology of knowledge, presupposes a movement into social time and space-blurred bounds. The old controversies on externalism and internalism diminish with the necessity of watching these processes, that immersed into their own context they built themselves, defining their own borders and limits of scientific, social and non scientific fields. From such positions, nevertheless, several narratives that, instead of supplanting the traditional histories -briefly mentioned above, can show some others archaeology facets and its diversity as a social discipline, with no intention of proposing a new origin.
Enrique Juan Palacios, the axis of this work, is one of the forgotten figures by the general historiography in Mexican archaeology. Palacios was a basic education professor that from the Post Revolution years, who started his archaeological career in the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Historia y Etnografía (MNAHE). He made several journeys into the country and several archaeological excavations; his publications are more than a hundred. At the end of his life he became director of the Dirección de Monumentos Prehispánicos of the INAH, he is remembered as the first Mexican epigraphist, whose view has been “surpassed” by new scientific interpretations. Despite of the fact that he was one of the first professors in the current Escuela Nacional de Antropología e Historia (ENAH), nowadays he is hardly considered a tutor.
It seems as if Palacios, regardless of his work, hasn’t been recognized, because his labor lacked of “scientific” quality, he was seen as a marginal character in its own epoch. Yet, this marginalization that he experimented, tends to vanish when observing closer his life and work through the context of the first last century decades. From this new perspective his work can be seen as one of several conformation lines of what we today know as archaeology and its narratives. Now allow me, in the next pages, outline his first archaeological works and some of his propositions to write the history of pre-Hispanic Mexico.
– II –
Enrique Juan Palacios Mendoza, was born in Mexico City and later adopted by Puebla. He was born on January 23 in 1881; he made his first studies in the Colegio del Estado de Puebla. He is known as a basic education professor. Ignacio Marquina, his only one biographer and his close friend, wrote down in his memories that Palacios has started his career as a teacher in the Escuela Nacional de Puebla with the Spanish Literature Professorship after obtaining an honorable mention in the Juegos Florales in 1902. The same author mentions that Palacios came back to Mexico City in 1906 to held the Spanish Literature Professorship, post obtained by opposition in the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria.
When settled himself in Mexico City, Mr. Palacios became part of the intellectual life in the Porfiriato, he was editor in the Savia Moderna magazine and few years later he participated in the Ateneo de la Juventud as one of its members. It is possible that his intervention in these parties as well as his presence in the Escuela Nacional Preparatoria, facilitated him the access to public and intellectual places in the Post Revolution elite in the Porfiriato and also to create strong links whit it. During its first years of professional life, Palacios had the chance to publish several educational, journalistic, historic and literary works.
It is possible to observe in some of his first works an early interest in the pre-Hispanic word. In it, references to the historical-archaeological work (as he used to call them) and also to the pre-Hispanic history are very often found, and also in some of his first literary and journalistic works. Nevertheless, his formal intervention to the academic field in history, at least in a written mean, was achieved by a work that talked about the history of the State of Puebla in 1917, published in Memorias of the Sociedad Científica “Antonio Alzate” (SCAA). This last group, along with the Museo Nacional -where later he would join to, would help out to publish his first writings about the pre-Hispanic Mexico and also would assist him to find the spaces where he would start his first archaeological fieldworks.
Enrique Palacios, as I mentioned above, was a prolific writer. Besides his extraordinary capability to write, his texts were born as the fruit of an arduous task in fieldwork and of course also in the bureau research. It is possible to point out some of his concern and central subjects in his studies: the Mayan and Huastec areas were the ones that caught his attention, while the reading of glyphs was his real passion.
In one of his first works, when describing the Sala de Monolitos of the Museo Nacional, he assured that the:… capability and fantasy to draw (in societies), and also their habits and theogony pictured with fidelity in their sumptuary art, as well as their large civilization expressed in all those signs and hieroglyphic, many on them undecoded yet, which contain the secret of disappeared civilizations […]. The whole of the history of this communities was, with no doubt, registered with enigmatic signs in these commemorative plaques, whose the Museo still keeps some examples. But the most relevant part is made up by objects which belong to the aboriginal cult: to ancient idols, terrible deities sculpted in granite and very hard traquita in order to made them eternal like the ideas they represented. This is the sculptural or statuary part of the Museum. There are also many objects of native ceramics, several ornamental pieces and samples of de Aztec work of precious metals.
This posture, where the importance of the ritual objects and the hieroglyphic inscriptions is recognized, was not exclusive of Enrique Palacios. In the 19th Century, Modern History had established an univocal correlation between the graphic record of collective memory and the civilization of societies. From this point of view, the central European world in general had pushed into background, into prehistory (no-history) to several societies that lacked of phonetic records such as the American and Asian ancient cultures. Being aware of this, the American nations, when writing their own historical development and after living their national independence process, used History as a political weapon to support (positively) the cultures antiquity of each territory. Through this process, the glyph writing of the pre-Columbian societies was extolled and with it their history and civilization beyond the Central Europe point of view.
In Mexico, several experts supported such conviction. Alfredo Chavero (1841-1906), who wrote the first official history about the pre-Hispanic period in Mexico in Mexico a través de los siglos, has pointed out the importance of the graphic records left by the pre-Hispanic cultures in the American continent. Chavero considered that despite the destruction of these groups after the arrival of the Spaniards to America, their history survived thanks to the records of the missionaries and also due to the effort made by the same groups who were devastated. Because “it is true that it is possible to conserve in a perfect and absolute way only by a written mean”. Thanks to these missionaries, who learned the languages, habits and legends of the natives, the history of these societies was recorded in chronicles and although many of them have remained unknown, this records have helped to the historic reconstruction.
On the other hand, besides of the buildings and the idols conserved after the conquest it is also possible to find the historical recounts engraved in stone by pre-Hispanic societies These societies, whose chronology is perfect, are the basis of historic precision.
They could, then, our ancients left us in their hieroglyphics, not only the history of the facts but also those of their public and private habits, their religious ideas, their astronomic knowledge, their chronology and superstitions, their political organization, and in a word, the whole of the civilization. That’s why, the first source of our ancient history are hieroglyphics, as a creation of their own.
Thanks to these sources (colonial and iconographic records), according to Chavero, the history of our people (Mexican people) is superior to the history of other primitive societies, even to the Greek history, that is made of legends that at the same time is full of imagination, and it distances it of the real historic account.
The history narrated by Chavero in this work has been very criticized even in its own time. Nevertheless, the author feeling for the importance of the graphics records was shared by their contemporaneous and even by some of their critics like Justo Sierra Mendez (1848-1912). The porfirian educator, in its work Mexico su evolución social, deplored the lack of a Champollion in the country, who could be capable of finding the rosette to decipher the “exasperating silence” of pre-Colombian cultures. In this same sense, the professor of the Museo Nacional, Jesus Galindo y Villa (1867-1937), stated that a monument made of stone had the same valor that a codex. This appreciation, very similar to the one of Chavero, was based upon the conviction that each monument could offer very important information to get to know the real history of the societies.
It is clear that the appreciation given by this specialist generation based upon the merits of the graphics records assumes the literal translation of the document and, to a large extent, their main concern is the chronological and precise position (dated according to the Christian calendar) of the society in a true historic sense. On the other hand, these appreciations on the documents (on paper or stone), have made this generation consider that all activities focus on the rescue of the pre-Hispanic past are a part of the whole of the archaeology and, of course, of History as a discipline and also as a becoming.
Enrique Palacios shared the same interest of this intellectual generation. As we will be able to see further in the text, he also was a member of a community where he had the chance to share his attraction to past reading, he formulated questions on the origins of civilization and he also developed his several professional archaeological practices during the first half of the last century.
– III –
As I mentioned above, in Memorias of the Sociedad Alzate, Mr. Palacios started his studies on the pre-Hispanic world. In the SCAA session on may 7 in 1917, he presented to this group the results of his trips around the Tuxtepec ruins -still overgrown, in Oaxaca. After this trip around the place, and after his investigation on several documental sources, Palacios concludes preliminary that the Tuxtepec ruins were Aztec military fortress. Besides, that the americanist Eduard Seler (1849-1922) had already identified the place as one of the first advances of this culture toward the south, Palacios considered that:
The absence of sculpted sings, paintings or decorative items confirms that the builders of the place were Aztec instead of Zapotec, Mayan or Toltec, that if in a way artless suitable to take advantage of the vicinity of the river and also of the unevenness of the place.
With no doubt, in the following years sings would become one of his obsessions and also an essential part in his initiation into archaeological life. After this brief description of Yuxtepec, Palacios will tackle two main subjects in pre-Hispanic Mexican history at that moment: the Sun Stone and also the Teotihuacan zone.
In 1920 he published, also in the Memorias of Sociedad Alzate, a text called “La Piedra del Sol y el primer capítulo de la historia nacional”. In this text (dedicated to his mother, Adelaida Mendoza de Palacios), Palacios looked through all the interpretations made after the stone had been brought into light at the end of the 18th century and among all of them, he considered that the only valid and important one -with no false interpretations, was the one given by Alfredo Chavero. Thus, according to his own investigations as well as those made by his predecessors in the subject, he considered that it was possible to read the part of the stone that stands out in relief and that in this part it is also possible to find:
[…] the astronomic knowledge, the cosmogony and the main dates of the building race, of the people who had made this monument that not only could make the world be astonished by the summary of the prodigious beauty and science that men have created but also by the nature of the material which would survive after human life on earth.
For Palacios, the process of looking trough and the collating of all of the colonial sources with the relief sings in the Sun Stone, are part of the whole of the “compared archaeology”. Sometimes the author would call this job “historic an archaeological studies”, reaffirming by this way his belief in the archaeology as a part of History. Based upon this method, the author described with great skill, each of the circles of the monument and he proposed the analysis and the reading of the dates there printed.
I will not talk more about the content of his interpretations, since it is a very large subject it deserves his own analysis. I am only interested in pointing out two elements that I believe are relevant for this text. First, Palacios considered that the third circle of the stone (from the inside to the outside) is the guide for archaeology, the Nahua calendar, that is suitable of using it as a base to understand the other discs since it is the “common legacy of a civilizing society, that served as a trunk to all others”. Taking up again these basic elements considered to define a civilized group of people, Palacios believed that the synthesis of the stone is art, history and a calendar, and that this tells the history of the race who invented the astronomic religion (the Toltecs). According to the author, this society when writing the history of their religion they were writing their own memory “in a strong and never ending as time monument, in order to keep on it the history of the world” which shows the cult to the beautiful twin.
In Chavero’s text in Mexico a través de los siglos, it is possible to observe one of the basic concern of the epoch: to get to know the diffuser focus that disseminates civilization into American societies. This concern stayed, in fact, until the return of the century. The so referred ceramic sequence for the Cuenca of Mexico -archaic-teotihuacan-aztec (not well attributed to Manuel Gamio) had as a substratum this question. Some of the members of the same Post Revolution generation had the same question. Figures as Eduardo Noguera (1896-1977) and José Reygadas (1886-1939), worked on the stratigraphic analysis, while others -leaded by Federico Mariscal (1881-1971) and Ignacio Marquina (1888-1981) tried to identify the cultural chronological sequences in monumental architecture, and, finally some others -such as Palacios and Miguel Othón de Mendizábal (1890-1945), studied the glyphs and the colonial sources.
Despite the differences of the investigation techniques, methodology speaking, all of them keep the same question about the origin of civilization. As it has been mention before by other authors, even if in the question about the origin underlines an evolutionist sense that characterizes anthropology and history in general, it is also not possible to deny the existence in such matters of a substratum of the romantic German thought through which it was expected to identify the history of societies. It is possible that both tendencies were present in all the work above mentioned, beyond the diversities of the forms that each investigator used in their own lucubration.
Some of the elements that are possible to observe after this methodological diversity applied to the same question, haven’t been considered when analyzing the history of the archaeology of the country as well as the first investigators and their archaeological works in the first decades of the last century. Specifically in the Enrique Palacios case, such elements in the analysis show the concordances not only between the prevailing evolutionism of the epoch, the romanticism, the americanist German studies and the folklore studies, but also -as I mentioned above, with the nineteenth-century historical tradition in Mexico.
Even if I have only mentioned some of the aspects of the first works of the author -a matter of space, his work, throughout his life, keeps fundamentally the same considerations. On the one hand the validity that for Palacios hieroglyphic writing has presupposes objectivity, certainty, logic, clarity and exactitude in the written data, in History, in the modern sense of the term. It is pertinent to consider that in addition to the chronological sense attributed to glyphs in general, this kind of records were appreciated by the sense of true in history implied into the eyes of the investigators. At that time, history was understood as the recovery of memory as a truth, overestimating the testimony of the chronicler, considering his as a personage who can observe directly and impartially the facts in order to narrate them to the next generation and by this means conserve the memory and with it the collective history. In this sense, the cosmogony was the synthesis of memory and its chronology, and it could be known identifying the right code through the right reading of the glyphs.
In the other hand, Palacios considers that knowledge, as well as the analysis through the “compared archaeology”, has a paramount role in the cosmogony of the building community, and this role could point out a deep relationship with the interests of the ethnology of the moment (the study of folklore). The motivation of studying it was to decipher the history of societies and, therefore, their chronology. Moreover such studies tried to find the “ideal type” and with it, the origins of civilization and the relationship among different races. As I suggested before, the search for the “type” was not exclusive of the sources studies, but also was present into the architectural analysis and even in those, ceramic and stratigraphic analysis, that were developed by the rest of the experts in the same epoch.
Talking about the Enrique Palacios premises, it seems to me possible to find some coincidences with the above mentioned by Chavero, that can be related to the historic tradition in the 19th century in Mexico and possibly to the premises of the German Americanist studies. Both elements will be in his scheme, the base upon his analysis and essential components are founded, this scheme some years later, will be called by himself “historical and archaeological studies”.
– IV –
It is possible to consider his first attempts as failures of a marginal personage in the first decades of 20th century among the archaeological community, or also considered as the remainder of his amateur practices in the previous century. In both senses his presence is lacked of interest for the history of the archaeological discipline. Nevertheless, I propose, that Palacios was a member of the archaeological and intellectual community in the 20th century, and that his view was not an exclusive or an outdated vision from the 19th century, but a fraction of the development of the professional discipline.
It is possible that the Enrique Palacios participation in the Sociedad Alzate publications during the second decade of the 20th century helped him out to get a certain recognition in the intellectual world after the Revolution. The General Alvaro Obregón regime in the festivities of the centenary of the independence (its culmination in 1821) included him as one of the authors of the Album histórico mexicano.
A big format work (50x35cm) with 800 pages made of couché paper, that includes several etchings, this album had the finality of gathering different texts of historic character to show that despite the uprising that took place, the development of the country, since the beginning of the independent life hadn’t stop. Many great figures participated, such as the historian Galindo y Villa, the jurist Francisco Bulnes (1847-1924) and also the anthropologist Nicolas León (1859-1929). Palacios contributed with four texts, two of them were dedicated to the independent Mexico. In the third one, Palacios talked once more about the hieroglyphics in the Sun Stone, while in the last one the subject was Teotihucan, the second subject that would call his attention in the first years of his archaeological activity.
The subject is not casual or even improvised. Teotihuacan was in the top of the conversations thanks to the explorations made by the Dirección de Antropología since 1917, leaded by Manuel Gamio. By the same epoch (1922) the results of the explorations were brought into light in a three-volume masterpiece, calling it “integrales”. Concerning the pre-Hispanic time, works on architecture, lapidary, precious metal works and ceramic were included. The Teotihuacan project suggested a new way of archaeological investigation in this monumental place that besides of generating knowledge also served to increase the tourism and also to benefit economically the resident population of the place. Among the academic aspects were relevant the suggestion of using the stratigraphy as a basic tool in his works, the intention of corroborating, by this and some other tools -such as the architectonic analysis, and also the cultural sequence before proposed by Frans Boas (1858-1942) who some years before was the principal in the Escuela Internacional de Arqueología y Etnografía Americanas in Mexico.
Even if there is only a few of detailed analysis that refer to the scopes and repercussions of this work, it seems to be categorical its political success and apparently also academic. In another sense, the built hagiography around Manuel Gamio pretends to conceive this project as a hiatus that brought about the scientific quality to the archaeological discipline. Nevertheless, it is important to emphasize that the response of the starting community was not totally homogeneous or favorable, at least talking about published texts. There were some works that retorted or criticized this teamwork, but practically there were not responses of the investigators of the Management.
Ramon Mena Issassi, born in Veracruz (1874-1957), professor then in the Archaeological Department in the Museo Nacional, was one of the main critics of the excavation executed in this work. Also Leopoldo Batres Huerta (1852-1926) the former inspector of monuments, since his retirement in Europe rejected the works leaded by Gamio. Deeper, yet, were the judgments made by Palacios. Exactly in the year of the publication of the work of the Dirección de Antropología (1922), Palacios published one of the monographies of the Museo Nacional, El Templo de Quetzalcóatl en Teotihuacan. Su significación histórica. Besides, along with Othón de Mendizábal, an old student and by that time professor in the Ethnography Department in the same establishment, made a monograph titled Quetzalcoatl y la irradiación de su cultura en el antiguo territorio mexicano.
It seems to be feasible to consider that both publications required months of systematic study by the authors. In these works one achieves to observe that both authors knew very well each detail of the work of the Anthropology Management: they have been all over the city of the gods and its surroundings, they handle with great skill the data of the sources of XVI century, they know the excavations made by Antonio García Cubas (1832-1912), Leopoldo Batres, Gamio y Marquina, they have read the Seler interpretations, Francisco del Paso y Troncoso (1842-1916), Galindo y Villa, and all those made by the ones who had written of the subject. Based upon this knowledge, the authors showed pictures of the just explored buildings, and also debated the results presented by some of the members of the Dirección de Antropología.
Palacios in his text El Templo de Quetzalcóatl en Teotihuacan. Su signifación histórica bases his analysis upon the monuments that present glyphs. He does not ignore the scopes of the architectural analysis or even of the stratigraphic. On the contrary, he is acquainted with them. However, the author is suspicious of the validity of these methods by themselves. He accepts that the question about the builders of the city can be responded trough the study of the data that the ground supplies, and that they could be “direct by their nature, [or] indirect since it is necessary to interpret them”, it means the architectural and stratigraphic comparative studies. Particularly the stratigraphic one, even if he considers it is modern and solid in practice and reliable in its results, he thinks that it must be complemented with some other study of some other nature. Since:
In presence of two kinds of ceramic works together, qualitatively differenced, how could, the stratigraphic method by itself, tell us if they are product of different societies or if they belong to successive stages of the same evolution? It is necessary to turn to compared archaeology and to the contribution of traditions or to the other historic documents, when circumstances with a more precise character are not available.
According to Palacios, stratigraphy cannot, by its own resources only, precise the “race or ethnic family” that corresponds to each one of the investigated settlements. He also considers, that there is a lack of excavations in all the territory that could offer new ceramic sequences that can be used for the comparative analysis. Therefore, he makes an iconographic and a compared archaeological analysis of the available buildings, particularly the Quetzalcoatl Temple. Taking into account that the idea of locating the calendar into the city or the cosmogony ideas of the builders, Palacios counts the steps of the stairs in the buildings, interprets the embossed symbols and reads each sing that he finds in his way.
If the Toltecs and the Olmec are the same civilizations, is a question that cannot be answered yet. What Palacios assures is even if they are called Toltecs, Olmecs or whatever name they can be called with, the builders of the city are proto-Mexican (before to the Mexicas and are the same from Xochicalco, Morelos), and they are who teach and inherit to Mexicas the calendar and several of the cosmogony practices, with no possibility of establishing a direct and absolute relationship between both societies. The calendar then, was at his height in this place and the diffusion can be observed toward the south.
It is surprising indeed, the intellectual myopia of those who having in their hands the exhumed elements [sic], haven’t been able not even closely to realize the reach that these have in the problem of the chronological system affiliation and the center of the culture irradiation.
Palacios considered that the geographic point of the origin was not clear, but the most probable answer was that it was not Teotihuacan and he thought that as well as Chavero or Sierra did, it would be worthless thinking of the Atlantis. What was totally clear for this author was that in Teotihuacan between the 8th and the 10th centuries, “a culture of noble characters, soul of which the myth of Quetzalcoatl emerged, [and] the synthesis of the measure time system named Toltec” flourished. In this place as well as in Xochicalco, Copan, Chichen Itza and some other places, it was possible to observe “the appearance of the same people: the diffusion of a ramified culture spread over different places but proceeding from the same trunk” with local variations.
Beyond the interpretations in this texts mentioned -controversial, with no doubt, I consider that they show clearly Palacios’ main epistemic concern: How is possible to get to know in a deeper way the studied community?, What is hiding behind the stone remaining that seem to shout an common origin?. He will look for the answers in glyphs throughout his life.
Whit this question and suppositions he started his studies in archaeology. After the publication of the text above mentioned, Enrique Juan Palacios started the archaeological practice in an institutionalized way. In 1922, in January he became Third Officer Librarian in the Museo Nacional de Arqueología, Historia y Etnografía, and with it his career into the institutional archaeology started.
It is also important to briefly say that by the time archaeology in the country was practiced in an institutional way by two different dependencies that had a little or nothing in common. On the one hand, there was the Secretaria de Agricultura y Fomento since 1917, the Dirección de Antropología -already mentioned above (DA, the former Dirección de Estudios Arqueológicos y Etnográficos). It was directed by Manuel Gamio whose main objective was the realization of anthropological integral studies in different places of the country. That’s why the national territory was divided into different areas, being Teotihuacan -located in the center of the territory, the first and the only one explored.
On the other hand there was the Museo Nacional. It was integrated to the Departamento de Bellas Artes of the Secretaría de Educación Pública in 1922, and it continued with the investigation, teaching and the curatory labors, in the same way they were developed during the period of the Porfiriato, but with much less resources. The porfirian professors -Ramón Mena Issasi, Luis Castillo Ledón (1880-1940), Jesús Galindo y Villa and Nicolás León (1859-1929) were in charge of the History, Archaeology, Ethnography, Languages and Physical Anthropology Departments, and also of the Molded, photography and library workshops. All of the activities were restricted because of the precarious resources assigned by the government. In 1917, when the new Constitution was created, the Museo Nacional hadn’t made yet any archaeological exploration and in 1913 the publication of the Anales, its diffusion mean was canceled. In 1922, with the Palacios arrival the fortune of the museum changed.
Despite being assigned second official, the Palacios attention was not totally captured by the library. The following month after his arrival (in February), he made a trip on assignment and with his return he informed his discovery -seen as an honor to the museum, a new monumental archaeological zone: Cantona, in Puebla. This zone would never be explored by him.
At this moment, his field studies increased and he participated closely in each of the exploration works in archaeological zones made by governmental dependencies, he also had an active collaboration in the publications of the epoch. Palacios, along with several colleagues -such as Miguel Othón de Mendizábal, Roque Ceballos Novelo (1885-¿?) and Alfonso Caso Andrade (1896-1970), integrated the reading tradition of the sources of the institutionalized archaeology during the first half of the century. This way of interpretation as well as the architecture and stratigraphic (e.g. those made by Ignacio Marquina, Federico Mariscal and Eduardo Noguera) interpretations were read together in order to achieve the answer to the main question: the origin of civilization, its cosmogony and the civilizations memory. And they also constituted the multiple aspects of the professional and institutionalized archaeological discipline that is know nowadays.