Website Review: FAMSI

Full Name: Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc.


Content: Research materials on the study of ancient Mesoamerica, previously published or not, supported financially or not (“The Foundation is pleased to post the research of scholarship not funded by FAMSI but that contributes to the advancement of Mesoamerican studies.”); ranging from papers to excavation reports, reference works and databases

Authorship: Individual contributors or institutions

famsi1entry page

Host/Maintenance: FAMSI, Crystal River, FL; ditto; continuously updated

Permanence/Archiving: No mention

Licensing: A separate page contains detailed copyright and citation information; basically, for all of the site, non-commercial use is free, otherwise the archivist needs to be contacted; several sections have their own copyright guidelines

famsi2example of a previously published monograph: Codex Borbonicus, Bibliothèque de l’Assemblée Nationale, Paris

Usefulness: The site offers access to a large number of research materials, enabling the study of ancient Mesoamerica for scholars and lay people alike; useful for people not linked with the specialized institutions actively involved in this type of research; the content is substantive and growing, with both more popularly-oriented (e.g., Mark Van Stone, It’s Not the End of the World: What the Ancient Maya Tell Us About 2012) and more academic materials

Ease of Use: While there’s a lot there and not always organized in a transparent way, the site-wide search engine allows one to find relevant materials rather easily; from the entry page, drop-down menus channel traffic-too bad the drop-down menus are not present on every page; there are some section-specific search pages too

Appeal: The site is well designed with a calm, professional feel. Drop-down menus and end-of-page section hyperlinks facilitate navigation.

famsi3FAMSI search page

Accessibility: In web search engines, FAMSI is in the top 6 for “Mesoamerican”; the papers and monographs are indexed by search engines but not, for instance, the Maya Vase Database entries

Credibility: The site is very professional with content produced by the leading scholars in the field

Reuse: No accommodation is made to export data in convenient formats

famsi4Maya Vase Database: example of a search result page for “Bees, Honey”

This fascinating, rich site is a boon for ancient Mesoamerican studies. There is still room for some improvement but overall it is an outstanding initiative. The Maya Vase Database and A Precolumbian Portfolio, both by Justin Kerr, have their own URL,, with a separate copyright page, but are still part of the FAMSI collection of research materials

famsi5Vilma Fialko, Archaeological Research and Rescue Project at Naranjo: Emerging Documentation in Naranjo’s, Palacio de la Realeza, Petén, Guatemala, 2009

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