His home is in Lake Highlands, but David Freidel’s work takes him to Mexico, South America and the world of the ancient Mayan culture.
Freidel, an SMU anthropology professor, started studying the Mayan culture more than 30 years ago as a freshman at Harvard University.
“In 1971, I went to see the Maya country and have been working as a field scientist since,” he says.
He has co-authored two books on the Mayans. His most recent; “Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman’s Path,” has been described by “USA Today” as “a tour de force, taking its place among the best books on the Maya.”
The book, co-authored with Linda Schele, is based on 20 years of research. It draws a direct connection between Mayan drawings and the culture’s advanced knowledge of the cosmos and universe.
Freidel and Schele executed onsite studies of the Mayan culture. Their first book, “A Forest of Kings,” was a highly acclaimed history about the hieroglyphs of the Classic era.
Freidel came to Dallas in 1974 while completing his graduate work at Harvard. He joined SMU a year later.
“Subsequently, I initiated research in Yucatan, which is where I have been working since 1986,” he says.
Freidel has plans to start a new book project with other collaborators. He will focus on Mayan warfare and their ninth century collapse.
Freidel and his wife, Carolyn Sargent, a medical anthropologist, have lived in Lake Highlands since 1981.
“We moved here after the birth of our daughter, Jennifer, now a fifth-grader.” he says. “We have enjoyed the unique aspects of the community, like jogging around Flag Pole Hill and riding our bikes around the lake. It is an ever-changing neighborhood.”