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Guillermo Dupaix

Born: 1746

Died: 1818

Guillaume Joseph Dupaix (1746-1818) also known as Guillermo Dupaix was an explorer and archaeologist who is considered one of the pioneers of pre-Columbian archeology in Mexico. He was born January 22, 1746 in Vielsalin, then in the Duchy of Luxembourg (present Belgium) which was part of the Holy Roman Empire. His mother died at his birth and his father married again and moved with the family in Frisange.

Dupaix joined the military at the age of fourteen and made his career in the Spanish army. In 1784 he became teniente (Lieutenant) and later in 1790 he was promoted to Capitaine of the Regiment of Dragones de Almansa. He was sent to Mexico with the military and arrived in Mexico in February of 1791 where he would spend the next 27 years of his life.

He retired in 1801 and in October of 1804 the Vice-King Jose de Iturrigaray commissioned him to conduct three royal archaeological expeditions with the purpose of documenting antique monuments and sculptures. This was done under the sponsorship of King Carlos IV. These expeditions were carried out between 1805 and 1807 among the ruins of ancient cities like Palenque and Mitla. On these expeditions Dupaix was accompanied by an escort of cavalry and the artist for the National Museum of Mexico named Jose Luciano Castaneda who made illustrations of the antiquities along the way.

The expeditions ended when Dupaix was accused of disloyalty to the King of Spain in 1808. He was later acquitted and Dupaix died at 72 years of age in 1818 in Mexico City without conducting anymore expeditions. The results of these expeditions were later published in Paris and form one of the first works on Mexican archaeology. Another set of his works was not published until 1969 in Madrid under the title "Expeditions about the monuments of New Spain, 1805 - 1808".

Dupaix's descriptions and Castaneda's drawings of the ruins received high acclaim, especially in France and England. The publication of their works is credited with having stimulated the strong interest of Europeans in visiting and studying these ruins. Dupaix is considered to be a pioneer in the science of archaeology. Many of the buildings and artifacts were lost soon after the expedition when Mexico fell into extended revolution.

References:

Le Brun-Ricalens, Foni, 2014. Guillaume Joseph Dupaix (1746-1818) aka Guillermo Dupaix: a Luxembourgeois meconnu aux origines de l'archeologie precolombienne et mexicaine. Archaeologia luxemburgensis 1: 130-151.

Lopez Lujan, Leonardo, 2015. El capitan Guillermo Dupaix y su album arqueologico de 1794.