A linguistic anthropologist interested in the cultural and linguistic history of Mesoamerica, a cultural superarea encompassing parts of Mexico, Guatemala, Honduras, Belize, and El Salvador.  Focuses on the historical linguistics and philology of the Ch’olan-Tzeltalan and Yucatecan languages, with publications on the history of applicative constructions and independent demonstratives in the Ch’olan-Tzeltalan languages, as well as the orthographic conventions of ancient Mayan hieroglyphic writing.  Primary documentation in the form of line drawings of ancient Mayan inscriptions, currently focusing on the monuments at Tak’alik Ab’aj in collaboration with Christa Scheiber de Lavarreda and the rest of the members of the Proyecto Nacional Tak’alik Ab’aj; research on the earliest Mayan hieroglyphic texts, some as early as ca. 400-300 BCE, as well as the broader corpus of inscriptions on portable objects, often bearing a version of the well-known dedicatory and proprietary formulae of Mayan texts.  Limited fieldwork on Guichicovi Mije, a variety of Isthmus Mixean that has been poorly documented by linguists to date.  Also carrying out comparative historical research on Mayan and Mije-Sokean languages.


Recent and upcoming course offerings:

Ancient Mayan Hieroglyphs


Linguistic Variation and Change

Introduction to Historical and Comparative Linguistics

Mesoamerican Languages and Linguistics



PhD 2001 (SUNY-Albany)

BA 1996 (University of Kansas-Lawrence)


Unpublished manuscripts:

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2010.  Differential Mixean and Zoquean Interaction with the Greater Lowland Mayan Languages and the Late Preclassic Origins of Classic Mayan Scribal Practices.  In progress, contact author for possible recent updates.


Selected publications:

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2020. The Cascajal Block: New Line Drawing, Distributional Analysis, Orthographic Patterns. Ancient Mesoamerica. https://doi.org/10.1017/S0956536119000270.  

• Mora-Marín, David F. 2018. Izapan Writing: Classification and Preliminary Observations. Ancient Mesoamerica 29:93-112.

• Mora-Marín, David F. 2018. The Hatzcap Ceel Axe Inscription: Recent Documentation and Epigraphic Analysis. Glyph Dwellers Report 60:1-24.

• Mora-Marín, David F. 2018. A Drawing of the Teotihuacan-style Vessel at the University of Kansas Introduced to Mesoamericanists by the Late Erik Boot. Glyph Dwellers Report 59:1-8.

• Mora-Marín, David F. 2016. A Study in Mayan Paleography: The History of T168/2M1a ʔAJAW ‘Lord, Ruler’ and the Origin of the Syllabogram T130/2S2 wa. Written Language and Literacy 19:1-58.

• Mora-Marín, David F. 2016. Testing the Proto-Mayan-Mijesokean Hypothesis. International Journal of American Linguistics 82:125-180.

• Mora-Marín, David F. 2012. The Mesoamerican Jade Celt as ‘Eye, Face’, and the Logographic Value of Mayan 1M2/T121 as WIN ’Eye, Face, Surface’. Wayeb Notes 40:1-17.

• Mora-Marín, David F. 2012. A Ritual Title: ‘He of the Incensing’ or ‘Incenser’. A Mayavase.com Essay. http://www.mayavase.com/POOM.pdf.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2010.  La epigrafía y paleografía de la escritura preclásica maya: nuevas metodologías y resultados preliminares.In XXIII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2009, edited by Bárbara Arroyo, Adriana Linares Palma, and Lorena Paiz Aragón, pp. 1045-1957.  Guatemala City, Guatemala: Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología.  Click here to read.

Mora-Marín, David F.  2010.  A Note on a Glyph from the San Bartolo Murals: A Possible Rebus Based on *7aj ‘Reed’ for *7aj+ ‘Male/Large/Occupation Proclitic’.  Wayeb Notes 33:1-5.  Click here to read.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2010.  Consonant Deletion, Obligatory Synharmony, Typical Suffixing: An Explanation of Spelling Practices in Mayan Writing.  Written Language and Literacy 13: 118-179.  Click here to read paper.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2010.   A Review of Recent Work on the Decipherment of Epi-Olmec Hieroglyphic Writing.  Mexicon 32(1):31-37.  Click here to read corrected version (actually published version has several typographic mistakes that involve phonetic fonts and are therefore not trivial).

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2009.  Early Olmec Writing: Reading Format and Reading Order.  Latin American Antiquity 20(3): 395-418.  Click here to read paper.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2009.  A Test and Falsification of the “Classic Ch’olti’an” Hypothesis: A Study of Three Proto-Ch’olan Markers.  International Journal of American Linguistics 75(2): 115-157.  Click here to read paper.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2009.  Reconstruction of Proto-Ch’olan Independent Pronouns: Grammaticalization and Evidence for Sociolinguistic Variation.  Transactions of the American Philological Society 107(1): 98-129.  Click here to read paper.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2008.  Full Phonetic Complementation, Semantic Classifiers, and Semantic Determinatives in Ancient Mayan Hieroglyphic Writing.  Ancient Mesoamerica 19:195-213.  Click here to read paper.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2008.  Análisis epigráfico y lingüístico de la escritura maya del período Preclásico Tardío: Implicaciones para la historia sociolingüística de la region.  In XXI Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2007, edited by Juan Pedro Laporte, Bárbara Arroyo y Héctor E. Mejía, pp. 853-876.  Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología.  Click here to read.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2008.  Two Parallel Passages from the Late Preclassic Period: Connections Between San Bartolo and An Unprovenanced Jade Pendant.  Wayeb Notes 29:1-6.  Click here to read.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2007.  The Identification of an Ingressive Suffix in Classic Lowland Mayan Texts.  Proceedings of the CILLA III Conference, October 2007, Austin, Texas, edited by Nora England, pp 1-14.   Austin: Archive of the Indigenous Languages of Latin America, Linguistics Department, University of Texas.  Click here to read.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2007.  A Possible Western Ch’olan Innovation Attested on Itzan Stela 17.  Glyph Dwellers 23:1-5.  Click here to read.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2007.  A Logographic Value HUʔ (~ ʔUʔ) ‘to blow’ or ‘sacred, moral, power’ for the GOD.N Verbal Glyph of the Primary Standard Sequence.  Wayeb Notes No. 27:1-22.  Click here to read.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2007.   Two Incised Shell Silhouette Plaques at Dumbarton Oaks. FAMSI Journal of the Ancient Americas, pp. 1-16.  Click here to read.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2005.  The Proto-Ch’olan Positional Status Marker *-täl and Additional Comments on Classic Mayan Positional Morphology.  Wayeb Notes 17:1-5.  Click here to read.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2005.  Kaminaljuyu Stela 10: Script Classification and Linguistic Affiliation.  Ancient Mesoamerica 16:63-87.  Click here to read paper.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2004.  A New Sign with Phonetic no Reading?  Wayeb Notes No. 15:1-3.  Click here to read.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2004.  Discourse Structure and Coordinate Constructions in Classic Lowland Mayan Texts.  In The Linguistics of the Maya Script, edited by Søren Wichmann, pp. 339-364.  University of Utah Press.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2003.  The Origin of Mayan Syllabograms and Orthographic Conventions.  Written Language and Literacy 6(2):193-237.  Click here to read paper.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2003.  Historical Reconstruction of Mayan Applicative and Antidative Constructions.  International Journal of American Linguistics 69(2):186-228.  Click here to read paper.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2000.  The Syllabic Value of Mayan T77 as k’i.   Research Reports on Ancient Maya Writing 46:8-45.  Click here to read paper.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  1999. Los escribanos en Yucatán y Atitlán.  In Ukab’ Umolib’ Chikixol Ajnajo’j puwi’ Pop wuj, Memorias del Segundo Congreso Internacional Sobre El Pop Vuh, directed by Juan Everardo Chuc Xum, Robert Carmack, and Víctor Montejo, pp. 201-218.  Quetzaltenango, Guatemala: Centro de Estudios Mayas—Timach—and Talleres Offset de Xelapublicidad.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  1997.  The Origins of Maya Writing: The Case for Portable Objects.  In U Mut Maya VII, edited by Tom and Carolyn Jones, pp. 133-164.  Arcata: Humboldt State University.  Click here to read (this paper is rather out of date; I wrote it in 1995, and served as the core idea behind my PhD thesis).


Co-authored publications:

• Hoopes, John W., and David F. Mora-Marín.   2009.  Violent Acts of Curing:  Precolumbian Metaphors of Birth and Sacrifice in the Diagnosis and Treatment of Illness “Writ Large”.  In Blood and Beauty: Organized Violence in the Art and Archaeology of Mesoamerica and Central America, edited by Heather Orr and Rex Koontz, pp. 291-330.  Cotsen Institute of Archaeology Press.

• Mora-Marín, David F., Nicholas Hopkins, and Kathryn Josserand.   2009.  The Linguistic Affiliation of Classic Lowland Mayan Writing and the Historical Sociolinguistic Geography of the Mayan Lowlands.  In The Ch’orti’ Area: Past and Present on the Southeastern Maya Periphery, edited by Brent E. Metz, Cameron L. McNeil, and Kerry Hull, pp. 15-28.  University Press of Florida.  Co-authored with Nicholas Hopkins and Kathryn Josserand.

• Freidel, David, Kathryn Reese-Taylor, and David F. Mora-Marín.  2002.  The Origins of Maya Civilization: The Old Shell Game, Commodity, Treasure, and Kingship.  In Ancient Maya Political Economies, edited by Marilyn Masson and David Freidel, pp. 41-86.  New York: Altamira Press.  Co-authored by: David Freidel, Kathryn Reese-Taylor, and David Mora-Marín.


FAMSI Research Project Reports:

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2004.  Final FAMSI Grant Report: The Primary Standard Sequence: Database Compilation, Grammatical Analysis, and Primary Documentation.  Click here to read (scroll down, you’ll find a link to a PDF file).

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2001.  Final FAMSI Grant Report: Late Preclassic Documentation Project.  Click here to read (scroll down, you’ll find a link to a PDF file).


Unpublished Ms. on PSS:

• Mora-Marín, David F.  1999.  The Structure of the Dedicatory Formula in Classic Lowland Mayan Texts: A Preliminary Typology.  Unpublished manuscript.  Basis for Chapter IV of my PhD thesis, and for my FAMSI research project on the PSS.  Click here to read (note that some aspects of this work will be out-of-date and have been revised in subsequent work, or require revision).


Unpublished PhD Dissertation:

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2001.  The Grammar, Orthography, Content, and Social Context of Late Preclassic Portable Texts.  Unpublished PhD thesis, SUNY-Albany.  (Many of the figures did not reproduce with adequate resolution in the PDF version.)


Selected unpublished conference papers:

Mora-Marín, David F.  2011.  The Proto-Maya-Mijesokean Hypothesis: Change and Transformation in Approaches to An Old Problem.  Paper presented at the 44th Annual Chacmool Archaeological Conference, Calgary, Alberta, Canada, Saturday, November 12th, 2011.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2011.   A Historical Sociolinguistic Study of Two Morphological Markers in Classic Lowland Mayan Inscriptions.  Paper presented at the Society for American Archaeology Conference Session on Research Utilizing the Maya Hieroglyphic Data Base, Friday, April 1st, 2011.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2008.  The Historical Reconstruction of Ch’olan-Tzeltalan (Mayan) Vowel Assimilation Patterns.  Paper presented as part of the Recent Topics in Mayan Linguistics session of the American Anthropological Association Conference, November of 2008, San Francisco.

Mora-Marín, David F.  2007.  Reconstruction of Proto-Ch’olan Independent Pronouns: Grammaticalization and Evidence for Sociolinguistic Variation.  Paper presented at the SSILA/LSA Conference, Historical Linguistics Session, Anaheim, California.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2006.  A Historical Sociolinguistic Perspective on the Dedicatory Genre of Mayan Texts.  Invited paper for session on “Critical Intersections: Social Change, Language Change,” Society for Linguistic Anthropology, American Anthropological Association, San Jose, California.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2005.  Affixation Conventionalization Hypothesis: Explanation of Mayan Spelling Practices.  Paper presented at the 43th Conference on American Indian Languages in Oakland.  Click here to read.  (This presentation was based on a paper I wrote in the Spring of 2002, which eventually evolved into Mora-Marín 2010, published in Written Language and Literacy.)

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2003.  Pre-Ch’olan as the Standard Language of Classic Lowland Mayan Texts.  41st Conference on American Indian Languages in Atlanta, Georgia.  Click here to read (this paper evolved into Mora-Marín 2009, published in IJAL).

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2002.  The Preferred Argument Structure of Classic Mayan Texts.  Paper presented at the 40th Conference on American Indian Languages in San Francisco.

• Mora-Marín, David F.  2000.  Pivot-chaining Constructions and Antipassive Clauses in Classic Mayan Texts.  Paper presented at the 39th Conference on American Indian Languages in San Francisco.