University of Pennsylvania Finding Aids

Navigation Aids

University of Pennsylvania Finding Aids
Search Finding Aids

Main Content

Benque Viejo, Cahal Pech British Honduras (Belize) expeditions


This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Pennsylvania. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in our reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Summary Information

University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives
Satterthwaite, Linton, 1897-1978
Benque Viejo, Cahal Pech British Honduras (Belize) expeditions
Date [bulk]:
Date [inclusive]:
Call Number:
1.2 linear foot (The collection consists of twenty-nine folders in three archival boxes)
The Benque Viejo (Xunantunich), Cahal Pech expedition, conducted by Dr. Linton Satterthwaite, was an extension of his expedition to Caracol, British Honduras (Belize). It was conceived as a "Housemound Project" and continued for two seasons from 1950 to 1953. The area of Benque Viejo, Cahal Pech contained seventeen structures and five stelae for investigation. Much of the collection relates to the Ball Court and East Plaza sites, as well as Structure A6 first and A6 second. The expedition produced objects and numerous photographs of the area. The Benque Viejo, Cahal Pech expedition records consist of twenty-nine folders in three archival boxes. Materials relate to the proposal for the expedition, preliminary data, budget and financial records, maps, notebooks, field notes, diaries, bag study sheets, progress and summary reports, press and publication materials, and photographs.
Cite as:
[Item name]. Box [Box number]. Banque Viejo, Cahal Pech British Honduras (Belize) expedition records. Penn Museum Archives. Accessed [Date accessed].
PDF Version:

Return to Top »


Linton Satterthwaite, Jr., associated with the University Museum for more than 30 years, was born in Trenton, New Jersey and educated in the public schools. After graduation from Trenton High School, Satterthwaite flew in World War I as a cadet and flying officer for the Royal Air Force. His education continued after the War and he attained his BA from Yale University in 1920. Satterthwaite supported himself as a reporter from 1920 to 1923 while attending law school. He practiced law briefly but enrolled at the University of Pennsylvania in 1929 to study Anthropology. Satterthwaite participated in expeditions in the Texas Panhandle, West Virginia, and Guatemala as an archaeological assistant from 1929 to 1931.

In 1932, Satterthwaite was named Assistant Director for the expedition in Piedras Negras, Guatemala, becoming Field Director in 1933. He continued as Director until 1939. Satterthwaite was awarded his Anthropology in 1943 then continued to pursue his area of major interest, Maya hieroglyphics and chronology. He served as project epigrapher in Tikal, Guatemala which investigated the carved inscriptions on Maya monuments.

Investigation into a possible expedition to Caracol, British Honduras (Belize) began in 1949 with a proposal submitted in 1950. Satterthwaite headed three sessions in Caracol from 1950 to 1958. His work at Cahal Pech, Benque Viejo, and other sites in Western Belize occurred in the same time period. While concentrating on hieroglyphics and chronology in Caracol, this expedition also produced twenty-six vessels of the early classic period, nine vessels of the late period, Stela 11, a new "giant glyph" altar, and the bottom portion of Stela 3 for the Museum's collection. The Benque Viejo, Cahal Pech expedition was conceived as a "Housemound Project" and lasted for two seasons. The trips yielded objects and photographs from the seventeen structures and five stelae in the area. Satterthwaite also explored other possible nearby sites in British Honduras and purchased or received gifts of items for the Museum's collection.

In 1955, Satterthwaite became Curator of the American Section of the Penn Museum and a Professor in the Department of Anthropology at the University of Pennsylvania. As Curator, Satterthwaite accomplished a systematic locational guide and inventory of the collections from the new world.

Satterthwaite published his findings from 1930 to 1962 in the Museum Bulletin as well as American Anthropologist, Science, American Antiquity, Scientific American, and Archaeology. In 1947, his work titled, "Concepts and Structures of Maya Calendrical Arithmetics" was published by the Museum and the Philadelphia Anthropological Society. He presented papers at scholarly meetings including "Moon Ages and the Maya Inscriptions: the Problem of their Seven-day Range of Deviation from Calculated Mean Ages", at the Proceedings of the 29th International Congress of Americanists in 1951.

Satterthwaite retired from the Museum as Curator and Professor Emeritus in 1969 but worked on the data from Caracol and Benque Viejo during his retirement. He died on March 11, 1978 having made significant contributions to the intricate study of Maya hieroglyphics and chronology. His volume on the Caracol expedition, "The Monuments and Inscriptions of Caracol, Belize", co-authored by Carl Beetz, was published after his death.

Scope and Contents

The Benque Viejo, Cahal Pech expedition, conducted by Dr. Linton Satterthwaite, investigated an additional area of Maya ruins in British Honduras (Belize) during the same time period as the expedition to Caracol. Like the Caracol expedition, the Bengue Viejo, Cahal Pech study was proposed in 1949 and begun in 1950. It was conceived as a "Housemound Project" and continued for two seasons. The area contained seventeen structures and five stelae for investigation. Much of the collection relates to the Ball Court and East Plaza sites, as well as Structure A6 first and A6 second. The expedition produced objects and numerous photographs of the area for the Museum.

The Benque Viejo, Cahal Pech expedition records consist of twenty-nine folders in three archival boxes. The major elements of the collection begin with the proposal for the expedition and preliminary data, followed by budget and financial records, notebooks, field notes, diaries, bag study sheets, progress and summary reports, press and publication materials, photographs, and maps.

Box one contains ten folders. "Preliminary Data, Sites" is housed in the first and second folders. This includes the revised proposal for the "Housemound Project" from 1949, data on the problem, geographical data, and a checklist of mound sites. Maps of the Maya area are listed and several hand-drawn maps are in these initial folders. There is investigative data on adjacent sites, drainage, and mound diagrams. A report on "Limestone Caves" and the 1949 "Report to the Colonial Secretary on Excavation in the Cayo District" by William and Michael Coe are part of the preliminary information as is a sketch map from The Peabody Museum dated "1904-1910." A six page list of objects "to be on the lookout for" is accompanied by a list of "features to watch for", a checklist of charcoal and wood, and a checklist of skeletal materials.

Accounts and Budget Data are contained in folder three. Cost estimates and revisions are type-written and date from January 15, 1951. A hand-written memo regarding expenses is dated June,1951. Individual payment accounts for the work staff are present for the second session(1951)and are hand-written. Packing lists detail the shipments from the expedition. Crates are listed by size and weight and also by contents. There is a record of thirty crates and boxes of stone monuments shipped to the Museum in May, 1951. Additional financial records include adding machine tapes, lists of Reconciliations, Breakdown Percentages, Control Sheets, Breakdown of Accounts, and Receipts for Supplies. A first accounting of the second season is dated "9/1950 to 1/1951".

Linton Satterthwaite's "Notebooks" comprise folder four. There are four small books, the first, from 1950, is in very fragile condition. The remaining three date from 1951 and also have condition issues.

Folder five relates to "Notes, Cayo X, 1950." Structures and monuments in the region are listed with location data. Technical data includes transverse measurement sheets, level readings, and designations. Working map number two is folded and in fragile condition as is the working map of the East Plaza. Notes on the Ball Court are contained with this material as is an operation list, a checklist of field designations, and monument drawings. There is also a 1966 worksheet on Cahal Pech Structures 5a and 5b.

"Benque Viejo Field Notes(1950/51,1953)" fill folders six and seven. Data collected from the "East rear room" and the "Debris, NE corner, base" fill two pages with several pages of cross-section and long-section material related to these sites. Most of the material relates to structure A6-first and A6-second and is dated from 1950, 1951, and 1953. Measurement sheets and work sheets along with drawings, dimensions, and frame estimates are also present. There is a general note on "East trends."

Additional material relates to the stucco elements of the monuments with a list of the "stucco exposures" with data from 1950. There are numerous drawings of the stucco elements with additional information. A copy of the "Anderson plan" and "Thompson answers to queries re the stucco design" are in folder seven. Data and a report from Paul Beidler completes the seventh folder.

Folder eight contains the "Bag Study Sheets and Object Catalogue, Cahal Pech, Benque Viejo,(1950)." The catalogue identifies objects by field number, measurements, site in operation, position, associations, other remarks, and photo record. The objects found are sherds, figurines and figurine heads, flint spear and knives, censers, dishes, stone fragments, stucco material, all from the 1950 expedition. Additionally, Dr. Satterthwaite purchased items or acquired them by gift while on the expedition and they are listed.

"Progress reports, Memos, and Field Diaries (1950-1952)" fill folder nine. These reports are detailed and type-written. The 1950 season is summarized in four progress reports and followed-up by a "Summary of 1950 Reconnaissance: Recommendations for 1951." There are four progress reports for the second season in 1951 along with a detailed twenty-five page Summary Report for the entire season. Dr. Satterthwaite's 1950 Field Diary spans the time from February 26 to June 21, 1950. A second diary begins in January of 1951 until May of that year. There is a proposal for the 1952 season following the diaries. Several hand-written sheets deal with "British Honduras Ethnology" and reflect religious ceremonies around the time of Good Friday.

The tenth folder in Box one contains Benque Viejo Logs(1951)and additional site materials. The logs are written on small sheets of paper that the creator taped to larger sheets. They detail trips to C. Aguado, Guacamallo, and other sites with drivers and by mule. There is a map of small sites and lists of "site leads" from sources like A.H. Anderson, Jacinto Cunil, Henry Melado, and Oligario Escalante.

Box two contains thirteen folders. The first folder houses a letter from Linton Satterthwaite, dated November 11, 1966 in response to a question concerning the Ball Court at Cahal Pech. The letter is accompanied by data from the site and a drawing of the East Plaza Ball Court. The reader is referred by a note to the "Borhegyi file, 1965."

Folder two contains notes from 1970 on the "Benque Viejo Structure A6." This material appears to be Dr. Satterthwaite's work relating to the publication of the findings of the expeditions to Cahal Pech and Benque Viejo referred to in the communication in folder one. A memorandum on Stucture A6-second contains thirty pages of text, a table of contents and bibliography, and "notes on further work by A. Hamilton Anderson, 1959." It is annotated and corrected by Dr. Satterthwaite. The text is accompanied by "figures" numbered one to five with negative numbers and a worksheet on the dimensions of the structure. A number of photographs of Structure A6-second taken by A.H. Anderson in 1959 along with a list of all of the photographs taken of this monument are present. A memo to Dr. Alfred Kidder II, Museum Director, from Dr. Satterthwaite, October 2, 1951, accompanies the report of Paul Beidler, an architect on the expedition.

Folder three follows-up with Publication Materials on Structure A6-first, A6-second, and Stucco features. The material begins with guide sheets and drawings labeled as "figures", possibly for publication. There are 43 fragile pages of type-written text with the subheadings: Architectural Sequences-Nomenclature; Descriptive list of Numbered Units; Access to the buildings-Stairways; Structure A-second; Structure A6-second: Reconstructed plan and Basic Elevations; Stucco-as material; Stucco Decoration of Upper Zone-General Remarks; Stucco details; Areas A8-1; A8-2; and B-9; Band B; and doorways. There are hand-written notes and corrections on many pages. A type-written copy of Paul Beidler's article "Plastic Art on a Maya Palace" is included along with some hand-written photolists possibly relating to the paper.

The fourth folder, "Manuscript Material, Publications" contains several papers, a report, a book review, a newspaper story, news release, a memorandum, and published articles. The papers are titled, "British Honduras Project, 1953" and "A Modified Interpretation of 'Giant Glyph' Altars at Caracol, British Honduras" both marked as intended for the Journal. Reports on "Limestone Caves" and "Investments Made by A.H. Anderson on behalf of the Government of British Honduras, September,1938" are with this material. Copies of a book review by Robert Rands of the University of Mississippi and a press release from the University of Pennsylvania announcing the expansion of the work in Tikal, Guatemala are here along with copies of articles in the Journal of The American Institute of Architects and the Bulletin of the American Anthropological Society relating to the expedition. There is also a "Memorandum on Greenstone Mask, Aguada Negra" and an article from the Denver Post about acquisitions "from the Mayan Jungle."

The fifth, sixth, and seventh folders hold the Field Catalogues of photographs from the expedition. The photographs are identified by number, location, date, and description. Folder four holds the list of "series V" photographs. Folders five and six hold the lists from "series K" and "series P" respectively. The photographs are all from 1950.

The eighth folder contains a list of slide negatives from the expedition. They are identified in the same manner as the photographs in the previous folders.

Folders nine, ten, and eleven contain the photographs from the expedition. These photographs were originally mounted on paper by staples and have roll and print numbers. The staples were removed whenever possible. Some smaller photos were placed in acid-free envelopes. Folder nine houses mounted and unmounted photographs with roll and print numbers on the photo or the mounting. Some of the photographs were "received from Anderson after his extension of the facade excavation, 3/14/60." In folder ten are both small prints and eight by ten size prints from the "V series." The photographs in folder eleven are mostly mounted. Some are two by three in size.

Folder twelve holds Miscellaneous Photos, from Benque Viejo and Cahal Pech, and photographs of people. These pictures were stapled to a thin paper backing and the staples were removed whenever possible. A hand-made album titled "Benque Viejo, Selected Photos" remains intact despite stapling. Another dual photo mounted on heavier paper with notes by Dr. Satterthwaite was left as-is. A drawing of Structure A6-second using a portion of a photo to construct a composite of the reconstructed East facade also remains as Satterthwaite made it. The remaining photos depict Cayo X, Baking Pot, and the native peoples. The majority of these photographs are eight by ten in size. The thirteenth folder contains the Photo Checklists mostly hand-written by Satterthwaite. Listed are photos of the Structure A6-second with negative numbers and photos used for the "Bulletin article" among others.

Box three is comprised of three folders The first folder contains "Press Coverage, Publications", with articles from the University Bulletin, Archaeology Newsletter, and Archaeology. The press coverage was written by The Carribean Quarterly, The Daily Clarion, British Honduras Monthly Magazine, Caldwell Press (N.J.), and the Monthly Bulletin (British Honduras). "Site Maps" comprise the second folder. These include both commercial and hand-drawn maps. There are two commercial maps of Chetumal Bay and a map issued by the Forestry Department, Government of British Honduras. Eight commercial maps relate to the geography, rainfall, geological divisions, vegetation, lights and lighthouses, and alienated land in British Honduras. A hand-drawn map labeled as a "copy print of F.D. plan 215" is folded and brittle and may need conservation assessment. Another map shows part of the "Cayo District showing License Areas nos. 29/43 and 1/44." Finally, there is an Archaeological Map of the Maya Area.

Folder three contains "Miscellaneous Drawings, Maps." Some of this material is oversized on heavy paper and is folded into smaller size. The drawings depict Figures one, two, three, four, and five with hand-written directions about scale. Figure three is labeled "Beidler, 1 of 3 Ozaloids, 1970." Figure four contains a 1970 memo with directions by Dr. Satterthwaite. Figure five is also dated 1970 and the material appears related to publication.

Administrative Information

Publication Information

University of Pennsylvania: Penn Museum Archives,  December, 2009

Finding Aid Author

Finding aid prepared by Jody Rodgers

Use Restrictions

Although many items from the archives are in the public domain, copyright may be retained by the authors of items in these papers, or their descendants, as stipulated by United States copyright law. The user is fully responsible for compliance with relevant copyright law.

Return to Top »

Controlled Access Headings

  • Field notes
  • Maps
  • Photographs
  • Site plans
Geographic Name(s)
  • Belize
  • Cahal Pech site (Belize)
  • Caracol site (Belize)
Personal Name(s)
  • Anderson, A. Hamilton
  • Beidler, Paul H., 1906-1998
  • Satterthwaite, Linton, 1897-1978
  • Belize antiquities

Return to Top »

Collection Inventory

Expedition Materials, 1949-1953 (Bulk, 1950-1952) . 0.6 linear foot (The expedition materials fill ten folders in Box one).


Preliminary Data (1 of 2), 1949-1953 (Bulk, 1950-1952) . 0.6 linear foot.

Box 1

Preliminary Data (2 of 2), 1949-1953 (Bulk, 1950-1952) . 0.1 linear foot.

Box 1

Accounts, Budget, 1951-1953 (Bulk, 1951-1953) . 05 linear foot.

Box 1

Satterthwaite Notebooks, 1950-1951 (Bulk, 1950-1951) . 05 linear foot.

Box 1

Cayo X Notes, 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot.

Box 1

Benque Viejo Fieldnotes (1 of 2), 1950-1953 (Bulk, 1950-1951) . 0.1 linear foot.

Box 1

Benque Viejo Fieldnotes (2 of 2), 1950-1953 (Bulk, 1950-1951) . 0.1 linear foot.

Box 1

Bag Study Sheets, Catalogue, 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot.

Box 1

Progress Reports, memos, field diaries, 1950-1952 (Bulk, 1950-1952) . 05 linear foot.

Box 1

Benque Viejo Logs, additional sites, 1951 (Bulk, 1951) . 05 linear foot.

Box 1

PU-Mu.1151.  Publication data, photographs, 1950-1970 (Bulk, 1950-1953) . 0.4 linear foot (Publication data and phototgraphs are in sixteen folders in Boxes two and three).


Communication (Cahal Pech), 1966 (Bulk, 1966) . 01 linear foot.

Box 2

Structure A6, Notes from Linton Satterthwaite, 1970 (Bulk, 1970) . 05 linear foot.

Box 2

Structure A6, Publication materials, 1966-1970 (Bulk, 1966-1970) . 05 linear foot.

Box 2

Benque Viejo manuscript material, publications, 1966-1970 (Bulk, 1966-1970) . 05 linear foot.

Box 2

Benque Viejo field photograph catalogue (1 of 3), 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot ("V" series).

Box 2

Benque Viejo field photograph catalogue (2 of 3), 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 5 linear foot ("K" series).

Box 2
Benque Viejo field photograph catalogue (3 of 3), 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot ("P" series).
Box 2

1950 Slides negative list, 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot.

Box 2

1950 photographs (1 of 3), 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot.

Box 2

1950 photographs (2 of 3), 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot.

Box 2

1950 photographs (3 of 3), 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot.

Box 2

Miscellaneous photographs, 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot.

Box 2

Photo checklists, 1950 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot.

Box 2

Maps, press coverage, 1949-1966 (Bulk, 1949-1955) . 0.3 linear foot (This information is contained in three folders in Box 3).


Press coverage, publications, 1950-1954 (Bulk, 1950) . 05 linear foot.

Box 3

Site Maps, 1950-1953 (Bulk, 1950-1953) . 05 linear foot.

Box 3

Miscellaneous Drawings, maps, 1970 (Bulk, 1970) . 05 linear foot.

Box 3