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Dr. Hill received his PhD from the University of Pennsylvania in 1980. At the most general level, Prof. Hill's research attempts to refine our understanding of how the ancient Maya became the modern Maya, particularly in the face of so many Spanish and later, national institutions designed to change them into other people. He carries out his research in the highland region of Guatemala for several reasons. First, it was an understudied area when he was in graduate school. Second, there are tremendous continuities from the late preconquest periods in many aspects of culture. Third, the documentary record is extensive and, again, was under-utilized when he began his work.

Dr. Hill has undertaken ethnographic, archaeological and ethnohistoric research in the region. For the last 20 years his focus has been ethnohistorical, using both Spanish colonial and indigenous documents to learn more about both the late preconquest and colonial periods. He has also followed up archaeological leads derived from the documents in the forms of surveys in the Department of El Quiche and Guatemala.

His major publications reflect this wide range of research. His books include Traditional Pottery of Guatemala (with his mentor, Ruben E. Reina); Continuities in Highland Maya Social Organization: Ethnohistory in Sacapulas, Guatemala (with John Monaghan); The Pirir Papers and other colonial-period, Cakchiquel-Maya Testamentos; and Colonial Cakchiquels: Highland Maya Adaptations to Spanish Rule, 1600-1700. He is currently collaborating with Prof. Judith Maxwell on translations of the major Cakchiquel chronicles, written down in Spanish characters early in the colonial period.


  • B.A., University of Pennsylvania, Anthropology, 1974
  • M.A., University of Pennsylvania, Anthropology, 1976
  • Ph.D., University of Pennsylvania, Anthropology, 1980

Academic Experience

  • Professor Emeritus, Tulane University, 1997-
  • Associate Professor, Tulane University, 1994-1997
  • Associate Professor, University of Texas-San Antonio, 1987-1994


  • NEH Research Grant
  • Cakchiquel Chronicles Translation Project
  • 1997-1998 Fulbright Fellowship
  • 1991 Latin American Studies
  • International Studies, and/or Language Courses: Middle American Indians


  • Spanish 5

Overseas Experience

  • Guatemala

Recent Publications

  • 2012. Pictograph to Alphabet – and Back: Reconstructing the Pictographic Origins of the Xajil Chronicle. Transactions of the American Philosophical Society.
  • 2006. Kaqchikel Chronicles. With Judith M. Maxwell. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • 1991. Colonial Cakchiquels: Highland Maya Adaptations to Colonial Rule, 1600- 1700. Case Studies in Anthropology Series. New York: Holt, Rinehart, and Winston.
  • 1989. The Pirir Papers and Other Colonial Period Cakchiquel- Maya Testamentos. Nashville: Vanderbilt University Publications in Anthropology.
  • 1989. "Social Organization by Decree in Colonial Highland Guatemala." Ethnohistory. 36 (2).

Stone Center Departments

The Stone Center

People Classification


Tulane Affiliation

Emeritus Faculty