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Skidmore College
Anthropology Department
Heather Hurst

Heather Hurst, Associate Chair

Professor of Anthropology

Office: Bolton 352
Office hours: By appointment only.

Heather Hurst specializes in Mesoamerican archaeology with a focus on the study of art production, iconography, materials analysis, identity, and the role of art in society. She has ongoing fieldwork on Maya mural painting in Guatemala, as well as research on Olmec rock art in Mexico. Her publications and illustrated volumes include The Murals of San Bartolo, El Petén, Guatemala. Part 1, The North Wall, and Part I1, The West Wall. She collaborates with chemists, conservators and epigraphers, resulting in recent articles including, “Strategies for 14C Dating the Oxtotitlán Cave Paintings, Guerrero, Mexico,” and  “Maya Codex Book Production and the Politics of Expertise.” Dr. Hurst earned her Ph.D. in Anthropology from Yale University. Her courses include Mesoamerican Archaeology, Archaeological Field Methods, Imaging/Imagining the Past, and Built Environments.


  • Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, 2009
  • Master of Philosophy, Department of Anthropology, Yale University, New Haven, 2006
  • Bachelor of Arts, Department of Art and Department of Sociology, Anthropology, and Social Work, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, 1997
  • Mesoamerica, particularly Maya Lowlands of Guatemala


  • Mesoamerican Archaeology; Material Culture; Ritual; Iconography and Symbolism; Art Production; Mural Painting; Materials Analysis; Fragmentary Objects; Architecture; Archaeological Illustration; Archaeological Methods; Cultural Heritage


  • Anthropology of the Human Past (AN102)
  • Archaeological Field Methods (AN202)
  • Mesoamerican Archaeology (AN205)
  • North American Archaeology (AN207)
  • Imaging & Imagining the Past: Visual Representation in Anthropology (AN352)
  • Built Environments: Archaeology of Architecture (AN352)
  • Applied Anthropology (AN365)



  • 2013 M. Miller and C. Brittenham. Illustrated by H. Hurst and L. Ashby. The Spectacle of the Late Maya Court: Reflections on the Murals of Bonampak. Austin: University of Texas Press.
  • 2010 K. Taube, W. Saturno, D. Stuart, and H. Hurst. Illustrated by H. Hurst. The Murals of San Bartolo, El Petén, Guatemala, Part 2: The West Wall. Ancient America 10, Center for Ancient American Studies, Barnardsville. [Translation into Spanish 2011]
  • 2005 Saturno, W., K. Taube, and D. Stuart. Illustrated by H. Hurst. The Murals of San Bartolo, El Petén, Guatemala, Part I: The North Wall. Ancient America 7, Center for Ancient American Studies, Barnardsville. [Reprint 2010; Translation into Spanish 2011]
  • 2003 Rawlings, Jane. Illustrated by H. Hurst. The Penelopeia. David Godine Publishing, Boston.


  • 2015 H. Hurst and C. O’Grady, “Maya Mural Art as Collaboration: Verifying Artists Hands at San Bartolo, Guatemala through Pigment and Plaster Composition.” In Beyond Iconography: Materials, Methods, and Meaning in Ancient Surface Decoration. Selected Papers in Ancient Art and Architecture, edited by Sarah Lepinski, pp. 35-56. Boston: Archaeological Institute of America.
  • 2015 F. Rossi, W. Saturno, H. Hurst, “Maya Codex Book Production and the Politics of Expertise: Archaeology of a Classic Period Household at Xultun, Guatemala.” American Anthropologist 117 (1): 116-132.
  • 2015 W. Saturno, H. Hurst, F. Rossi, and D. Stuart, “To Set Before the King: Residential Mural Painting at Xultun, Guatemala.” Antiquity 89 (143): 122-136.
  • 2013 J. Russ, J. McPeak, M. Pohl, C. von Nagy, H. Hurst, M. Rowe, E. Gutiérrez, Physicochemical Study of Black Pigments in Prehistoric Paints from Oxtotitlán Cave, Guerrero, Mexico. In Archaeological Chemistry VIII, American Chemical Society Symposium Series, Volume 1147 [peer reviewed book chapter], edited by R. A. Armitage and J. H. Burton, pp. 123-143. Washington D.C.: American Chemical Society.
  • 2011 C. O'Grady and H. Hurst, Interdisciplinary Approaches to the Conservation of Preclassic Maya Wall Paintings from San Bartolo, Guatemala. Preprints, pp. 869-879. ICOM Committee for Conservation, Lisbon: Critério Publishers.
  • 2011 F. Estrada-Belli and H. Hurst, Maya Map from La Sufricaya, Guatemala. In Mapping Latin America: A Cartographic Reader, edited by J. Dym and K. Offen, pp. 25-28. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
  • 2009 F. Estrada-Belli, A. A. Tokovinine, J. M. Foley, H. Hurst, G. A. Ware, D. Stuart, and N. Grube, A Maya Palace at Holmul, Petén, Guatemala and the Teotihuacan ‘Entrada': Evidence from Murals 7 and 9. Latin American Antiquity, 20: 228-259.


  • 2013-2016 Bonampak Rooms 1, 3, and 3, in “Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed,” the Science Museum of Minnesota, the Denver Museum of Nature and Science, the Museum of Science, Boston, and the San Diego Museum of Natural History.
  • 2012-present Bonampak original watercolors by H. Hurst and L. Ashby, Permanent Collection, the Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, CT.
  • 2012-2013 Bonampak Rooms 1, 2, and 3, in “Exploring Art of the Ancient Americas: The John Bourne Collection Gift,” The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore, MD, the Albuquerque Museum of Art and History, Albuquerque, NM, and the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Nashville, TN.
  • 2010-2011 Mural Installation of San Bartolo Maize God Scene, in "The Olmec: Colossal Masterworks of Ancient Mexico," Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.
  • 2010-2011 San Bartolo West Wall Quatrefoil, in "Fiery Pool: The Maya and the Mythic Sea," Peabody Essex Museum, Salem, MA, Kimbell Museum of Art, Fort Worth, TX, and the St. Louis Art Museum, St. Louis, MO.
  • 2009-2010 Bonampak Room 1, in "Painted Metaphors: Pottery and Politics of the Ancient Maya," University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, Philadelphia, PA.    
  • 2008-present San Bartolo and Bonampak, in "Storied Walls: Murals of the Americas," Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology, Harvard University, Boston, MA.
  • 2008 San Bartolo, Bonampak, and Architectural Reconstructions, in "Maya Murals: The Art of Power," Tang Museum, Skidmore College, Saratoga Springs, NY.
  • 2007-2008 Bonampak Room 1, in "Maya: Könige aus dem Regenwald," Ausstellungszentrum Lokschuppen Rosenheim, Germany; Roemer-und Pelizaeus-Museum Hildesheim, Germany.
  • 2006 Bonampak Room 2, North Wall in Exhibition of Mesoamerica, Museu de Arqueologia Etnologia, São Paulo, Brazil.
  • 2005-2006 San Bartolo North Wall in "Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship," Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, CA.; Dallas Museum of Art, Dallas TX; Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, NY.
  • 2005-present San Bartolo North Wall, permanent display, Museo Popol Vuh, Guatemala City, Guatemala.
  • 2004-2005 Bonampak Room 2, North Wall, in "Courtly Art of the Ancient Maya," National Gallery of Art, Washington D.C.; Fine Arts Museum of San Francisco, San Francisco, CA.
  • 2002-2003 Bonampak Room 1, 2, and 3, in "The Maya Murals of Bonampak: Windows on an Ancient Culture," Peabody Museum, Yale University, New Haven, CT.


  • Site Preservation Award, Archaeological Institute of America, 2013, 2015
  • Honorary Research Associate, University College London, Institute of Archaeology, 2014-2015
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Collaborative Research Grant, H. Hurst PI, #RZ51575, “The San Bartolo Mural Fragments Project: Murals in Motion,” 2013-2016
  • National Endowment for the Humanities, Summer Stipend Grant, #FT-61149-13, “The San Bartolo Mural Fragments: Reconstructing Images of Ancient Maya Myth,” 2013
  • SUN Network Advance Grant, National Science Foundation, 2011, 2010
  • Major Research Instrumentation award co-PI, Establishment of the Skidmore Analytical Interdisciplinary Laboratory, #0959476, National Science Foundation, 2010
  • Fulbright-Hays Doctoral Dissertation Research Abroad Fellowship #P022A070026, United States Department of Education, 2007–2008
  • Fellowship Award, John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, 2004–2009
  • Doctoral Research Fellowship, John F. Enders Foundation, Yale University, 2007
  • Alumni Scholar Award, Periclean Honor Society, Skidmore College, 2006