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Maria Chester - Profile


After studying Fine Arts, Maria Chester decided to go deeper and studied Art History becoming a Professor in Pre-Columbian Civilisations. Because of her first passion, that was Cave Art and Rock Art she also developed an interest in Archaeology, which gave her a frame for her constant research. She is multilingual and enjoys travelling. She taught in several South American universities as well as private institutions. Since 2007, she is the National Subject Adviser in American Archaeology and a member of East Berwickshire u3a. In 2015. She was a founding member of the IC-International Committee to The Third Age Trust, in the United Kingdom. In May 2016, she was elected Secretary General of AIUTA- International Association of Universities of the Third Age. She is also tutoring annual courses on Art History for BEA-Berwick Educational Association. She also works for Berwick Visual Arts delivering conferences and guided tours on seasonal exhibitions at The Granary Gallery in Berwick upon Tweed, England. Since October 2018, she is also an accredited lecturer by The Arts Society in London.

She was born in Buenos Aires, Argentina but travelled the world. She lived for 20 years in Caracas, Venezuela where her daughter Ines was born in 1988. Since 2003, Maria lives in the Scottish Borders, Scotland.

About  Pre-Columbian Cultures 

When we say “pre-Columbian” we are referring to something that happened or was there BEFORE Columbus. Christopher Columbus (Cristobal Colon in Spanish) was a Genovese adventurer paid by the crown of Spain to find the spice route.  

Spices were very valuable in 16th century and came from the East, from “the Indies”. That is why Columbus thought he had arrived at “the Indies” and for some time, in his letters to King Fernando de Aragon (and to the Queen Isabel de Castilla) he referred to his discovery as “the Indies”.  

So when we say “Pre-Columbian” we diminish the meaning of what we should call “Pre-Contact America”; “American Archaeology”, or “Archaeology of the New World”.  

I usually start my first class with an introduction to “the creation of complex societies”. And I do so because America had had exactly the same development that we had had in Europe, going from hunter-gatherers to settlements with cities, pyramids, temples and tombs.  

There are only two “centres of civilisation” in the Americas: one is the Andean Civilisations (from Colombia to Peru) and the other, is what we call Mesoamerica (a region that covers the South of North America to the North of South America). American civilisations built phenomenal pyramids and temples with no help from animals: no mules, no horses, no bulls, no oxen. They had only llamas in Peru. They knew of the wheel but it was useless without animal pulling power.  

For many centuries, we thought American cultures should be defined as “Pre-historic” because of the lack of a writing system. That proved to be absolutely wrong: The Olmec first, and then the Maya, developed a most intriguing system of hieroglyphs that we can now read.  

In my field, a new discovery is made every day. That is why it is so important to be up-dated. There are several interesting web sites that I use (and that will be available in my entry) and of course, my colleagues and contacts overseas keep me informed as well.  

If you want to start a group studying this subject, I have prepared all my presentations in Keynote (Apple-Mac) but they can be transferred to PowerPoint (Office 2011) which is a more popular format.  

We have to find out how to send it to you. They are heavy files so I can’t use my email for that purpose but I suppose if you send me a pen-drive/memory stick I could download some of them and see if they can be “read” by your PC.  

I’m also available to give talks to your U3A (if you take care of my expenses) and also organise some sort of seminars/short courses to attract some of your members. 

I believe American Archaeology is a fascinating subject that will take you to mysterious cities buried in sand in Peru and to the rain forests of Central America, full of sounds of jaguars, parrots and toucans.  

I always love to see the expression on some faces when we go through all the vegetables and cereals we eat every day without knowing that they came from America!

Did you ever thought about the origin of tomatoes? -  TAT SUBJECT ADVISER TOMATOES  TAT SUBJECT ADVISER TOMATOES (746.12 KB)

What do you know about your popcorn? -  TAT SUBJECT ADVISER MAIZE  TAT SUBJECT ADVISER MAIZE (347.79 KB)

Two articles I have written can be downloaded here:

The Maya The Maya (78.5 KB)

 The Incas The Incas (265.6 KB)


Members interested in academic papers, can visit
This site has the latest discoveries on Mesoamerican Civilisations from the point of view of archaeology and history of art.

I published several of my papers here. Just look for Maria Chester U3A

Also, members inclined into visual images more than reading papers, can visit YouTube and write the civilisation in which they are interested.
Few examples:

Maya Civilisation :

Maya and Aztec :

Also, there are some good documentaries filmed by Dr. Jago Cooper (BBC) here one of them:
Lost Kingdoms of South América:

These are just a few examples of the trove that you can find in YouTube.

If you are interested in any particular presentation/subject, please do not hesitate and contact me:

This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

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