|Author:||J. Kelly Robison|
|Title:||Liza Bakewell and Byron Hamann's Mesolore: Exploring MesoAmerican Culture, version 2.0|
|Publication Info:||Ann Arbor, MI: MPublishing, University of Michigan Library
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Liza Bakewell and Byron Hamann's Mesolore: Exploring MesoAmerican Culture, version 2.0
J. Kelly Robison
vol. 5, no. 2, September 2002
|Article Type:||Software Review|
Mesolore: Exploring MesoAmerican Culture, version 2.0
Mesolore: Exploring MesoAmerican Culture, version 2.0, Liza Bakewell and Byron Hamann. Prolarti Enterprises & Brown University, 2001
The software was tested on a PC running a 1.3 Ghz processor and 128 MB of RAM. Quicktime 4.0 for Windows, necessary for running the installation software and the program software, came with the software and was installed along with Mesolore, though in a separate process. Installation of Mesolore was a snap, though only two choices of installations possible. The maximum installation would install disk one of the two disk set to the hard disk, requiring 310 mb. The minimum installation uses only 33.5 mb of hard disk space, but requires switching cds occasionally. Running the software directly off of the CD was not an option. The software screen is set to run at 640 x 480 dpi, though running at a higher resolution, while possible, is not pleasant on the eyes.
Once the installation process is completed, the program is ready to run. For starters, the title of the software is misleading. When one examines the CD and its title, one would expect the contents to explore the entirety of MesoAmerican culture. In reality, this software examines only one of the many cultures of MesoAmerica, specifically the Mixtec. I had anticipated being able to examine Olmec culture or at least an introduction to Classic Mayan culture, but Mixtec culture is what the software is about. Fortunately, the treatment of the Mixtec is done well.
From the opening screen, the user may choose between examining Mixtec culture from a chronological approach or topically through the links at the bottom of the screen. These links remain throughout, regardless of where one is in the program. From the compass, which contains the chronological periods, the user may choose Pre-Spanish, 1560, 1593 or Now. The Pre-Spanish link moves the user to an examination of the Codex Nuttall, while 1560 links to a rather detailed examination of the Selden Codex, a post-conquest Mixtec document. If 1593 is chosen, then internet access is necessary since the software will default the user to the web site for the program which contains the Alvarado Vocabulary, a dictionary of Mixtec-Spanish compiled in 1593.. Each of the time periods examines one of the Mixtec codexes in depth. The Now link is a five-minute video overview of Mesolore which explains what is in the program and why the various sections are useful.
Lectures Main Screen
Useful is certainly a word that well-describes Mesolore. This program seems to have been designed for a post-secondary audience and would be a tool for teachers who want to provide their students with an overview of Mixtec culture and history, but also much of the debate surrounding archeology, anthropology and the politics of the disciplines. This program, though perhaps interactive, multimedia textbook on the Mixtec? would better describe it, seeks not only to explain Mixtec history and culture through the examination of the three main documents, but explain the process of doing the work on the Mixtec through video lectures, debates, and articles. For those who wish to learn more about the Mixtec on a non-professional level, Mesolore is the best way to go about it.
The Atlas feature of the program is scalable and searchable, allowing the user to find any of the myriad of sites mentioned within the texts or video lectures.