Born in San Cristobal de las Casas on February 6, 1964, Alonso spent much of his youth surrounded
by the vibrant highland Maya culture of the Tzeltal and Tzotzil, as well as the emergent movement
in anthropology and ethnography that occurred during the '60s and '70s. His Father, Alonso
Mendez Ton, a Tzeltal Maya of Tenejapa, Chiapas, participated prominently in these studies as a
cultural informant, translator, and liaison, while his Mother, Francisca T. Mendez, also played a
key role in the Maya communities as an historian, facilitator, friend and participant in the
social and ritual life of the Highland Maya. In this enivronment of dynamic contact between cultures Alonso grew and witnessed critical changes
that altered the physical and cultural landscape of Chiapas.
Alonso attended Middlebury College, graduating in 1987 with a degree in Fine Arts. His skill
as an artist would prove critically useful when in 1997 he joined the archaeological projects
in Palenque, first as project artist with the Palenque Mapping Project and subsequently with
the Proyecto Grupo de las Cruces and the Proyecto Arqueológico Palenque. During this time
Alonso produced drawings that documented the new discoveries and developed 3D reconstructive
drawings of the site.
In this atmosphere of discovery, he began to conduct astronomical investigations at Palenque and
other important sites in the area, and discovered many new astronomical alignments in the major
temples as well as new understanding of the hieroglyphic texts. He has published these findings
and presented many of these in symposiums and conferences, and has participated in educational
programs with focus on Indigenous science and knowledge. His most recent participation is as
co-scriptwriter for the full dome planetary production of Maya astronomy for the Chabot
Planetarium in San Francisco.