Just after ISIL captured the city of Mosul, Iraq, in early June 2014, its forces began a systematic destruction of archaeological, religious, and cultural heritage sites. Mosul’s ancient Assyrian Christian and Chaldean Catholic churches were dynamited, as were a large number of Islamic shrines, mostly built at the grave sites of historical figures.

Among the different formulations of “landscape” investigated in the current exhibition at Site Santa Fe, SITElines 2014: Unsettled Landscapes, which closes this weekend, are archaeological and cultural landscapes. The Argentine artist Leandro Katz is one of several in the exhibition who use their practice to call attention to issues of cultural property, colonialism, and postcolonialism.

Reading M.M. McAllen’s new account of the Second Mexican Empire of Maximilian of Habsburg and his wife, Carlota of Belgium, is a little like reading about the sinking of the Titanic: we know it ends badly. While there are no surprises on the last page, McAllen’s book offers a fascinating and meticulously researched glimpse at Maximilian’s doomed empire. 

Hidden in plain sight in a back stairwell of La Fonda is a fascinating artifact of the 1920s: tiles modeled after ancient Maya hieroglyphs that were made in Los Angeles by the Ernest Batchelder Tile Company. 

The colony can be said to have begun about a century ago, when Santa Fe was experiencing a remarkable period of growth in its cultural institutions.

The Scottish Rite building in Santa Fe opened to great fanfare on Nov. 16, 1912. Its architecture evokes the Alhambra, the fortified hilltop palace and administrative headquarters of Muhammad XII, or Boabdil as he is referred to in Spanish, who was the 22nd Nasrid ruler of the Islamic kingdom of Granada.

Perhaps the most striking building in Santa Fe’s historic districts is the Scottish Rite Center, a fine example of Moorish Revival architecture. This building is evidence of a deep and enduring interest in the Orient, wherever one chooses to locate it.

Did you ever wonder why one of the murals in the St. Francis Auditorium at the New Mexico Museum of Art shows a gang of ancient Maya men garbed in jaguar pelts and green quetzal feathers? The auditorium murals, Mayas and all, are intimately tied to the history of the building and to a few of the main players in the story of art and culture in Santa Fe a century ago.

In 2010, while exploring a looter’s trench in a building at the ancient Maya ruins of Xultún, a Boston University undergraduate named Max Chamberlin discovered traces of paint on the wall of an exposed room.

If you are reading this column, then we have survived the Maya Apocalypse of 2012. Or have we? It all depends on whether we have correctly correlated the Maya calendar with our own.

On Sept. 8, 1926, The Santa Fe New Mexican reported that the Yucatantrums, the float organized by archaeologist and sometime local resident Sylvanus Morley, had won the prize for the most beautiful entry in the Hysterical Pageant of the Santa Fe Fiesta.

First there was Y2K. Now we have Y12. By now almost everyone you know has probably heard that in just a few months, on Dec. 21, 2012, the ancient Maya calendar will end, and with it, the world as we know it will either perish or transform into a new reality.

The European discovery, invasion, and conquest of the pre-Columbian civilizations of the New World featured brutal and tragic episodes. But if we discount these inconvenient truths, what is left are some of the most dramatic and romantic narratives. What better fount of inspiration for the opera?

Ninety-nine years ago, two Santa Feans, the Mayanist Sylvanus G. Morley and the archaeologist and photographer Jesse L. Nusbaum, visited the island of Cozumel and the ancient Maya ruins of Tulum, on the eastern shore of the Yucatán peninsula.

Mounted into the wall in the first-floor conference room of the Museum of New Mexico Foundation office on Lincoln Avenue is a cast of three glyphs from the beginning of the inscription on the east side of Stela D at the ancient Maya city of Quiriguá.