Frans Blom

Frans Blom was a notable archaeologist who had many great explorations and discoveries that contributed to the field of Mesoamerican studies. One of his greatest accomplishments, was his founding of Na Bolom in 1950, which is still operational today and follows his same mission. Na Bolom is a non-profit organization that helps in funding cultural and environmental heritage programs, as well as various other development programs for the indigenous people of Chiapas.

Frans Blom was born in 1893 in a wealthy household in Denmark where he lived his childhood to his early twenties. In his mid- twenties, he decided to venture out on his own to make a living and bought a one-way ticket to the Americas in 1919. He moved to Mexico, where he found temporary work supervising Indians and merchandise being transferred. He later secured a job with an oil company in the fall of 1919. In this job, he had the opportunity to lead expeditions into the wilderness and traveled to distant parts of the country. He got acquainted with Indians, the culture, various climates, and found an interest in the Mayan culture and archeology.

He later obtained an apprenticeship in 1922, where he would think of ways to preserve, survey, and write reports on the sites he visited. Eventually, his drawings and notes caught the eyes of people at Harvard University, who helped him obtain scholarships to attend the university. At Harvard, he would attain a master in Archeology. Afterwards, he accepted a job at Tulane University.

At Tulane University, he spent much of his time on research and organizing archaeological and ethnographic surveys trips. Some of his notable explorations were through Tabasco, Chiapas, and Southern Veracruz in the 1920s. On his journey, he came across La Venta, in 1925. Here, he and his colleague, Oliver La Farge, would be the first to write a detail description of the Olmec center. Their findings were of huge importance for the Olmec culture and would be published in “Tribes and Temple,” one of his most well know publications.

He later bought a house in San Cristóbal de Las Casas in 1950, where he would stay until he died. Here he and his wife, Gertrude Duby Blom, would make expeditions into the jungle, established a research center for scientific studies, gave aid to indigenous people, especially the Lacandones, and continued publishing his work.

Blom was very interested in helping and learning about the indigenous people, and called his house Na Bolom, meaning “the house of the jaguar” in the Tzotzil language. Frans Blom had many adventures that helped contribute to the study of the indigenous people through maps, detailed journals, and his sketches. Frans Blom’s legacy still live on through Na Bloom; the building is still operational and follows the same mission as the founders. Na Bolom helps protect indigenous culture and environmental heritage, as well as aiding the indigenous people of Chiapas, especially the Lacandones.