Ek’ Balam is the “Anti-Cancun”

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An article in USA Today “The anti-Cancun: Yucatan’s secret seductions” is whetting my appetite for a December visit to the Yucatan led by Dr. David Stuart’s Maya Field Workshops. I have been to the usual spots like Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Labna, and down to Coba several times, but never to Ek’ Balam (near Valladolid, between Merida and Cancun.) We will also be traveling to Coba as well (more about that in a different post.)

But Ek’ Balam is fascinating in its own right. For a great sampler of the glyphs we will see, Joel Skidmore’s photos and article at Mesoweb is a good place to start. There is an intriguing set of texts on what is called the “Heiroglyphic Serpent – West” which shows Ek’ Balam’s emblem glyph:

“The glyphs in the top row. . .spell the name of Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’.  At the lower left is the emblem glyph of Ek’ Balam, naming the ruler as a Divine Lord of Talol, as the kingdom was known in ancient times,” Skidmore writes.

A nice recap of Ek’ Balam is summarized by Dr. Stuart here:

“First, a few decades ago, archaeologists from Davidson College in North Carolina mapped the mounds and associated features and demonstrated the unique layout of the place, with a circular wall and moat defining the site center and causeways radiating outward in the four cardinal directions. Later, archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History revealed that the large mound complex on the north side of the main plaza concealed a series of nested buildings, tombs, and lengthy hieroglyphic texts. The true wonder of Ek’ Balam lies in the incredible preservation of the sculpture, some in the full round, that adorn the façades and doorways of the main structure.”

Now, that certainly sounds more interesting than Cancun!


Yucatan – a Maya Tale of Three Cities in December

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Yucatan - Tale of Three Cities

I’ll be traveling with Dr. David Stuart’s Maya Field Workshop December 7 to 14, 2013. Though I have been to Coba and Chichen before, I have never been to Ek’ Balam and certainly not guided by one of the world’s great epigraphers!

I’ll be explaining more about the trip and the different stops (with some surprise special guests!) in coming weeks.


Maya at the Playa Conference Lineup

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Looking forward to my first Maya at the Playa Conference in Flagler, Florida, September 26-29.

Take a look at the awesome lineup of presenters!

George StuartJustin KerrMichael Coe

Francisco Estrada-Belli

Marc Zender

David FreidelMarc van StoneErin L. Sears

Harri Kettunen

Jaime Awe

Meaghan Peuramaki-BrownRonald BishopCharles Golden

Traci Ardren

Keith Merwin

Stanley GuenterNorbert StanchleyJeremy Coltman

Shawn Morton

Debra Walker

Welcome Maya Glyphers

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This site will explore the decipherment of Maya glyphs from the point of view of a “serious amateur”. We will also keep abreast of news about the the archaeology of Mexico and Central America.

I’ve been studying Maya glyphs informally since working with noted epigrapher, Linda Schele at the University of Texas at Austin in the early ’80s.

Last December I had the pleasure of attending a Maya Field Workshop conducted by Dr. David Stuart, renowned epigrapher and archeologist at the University of Texas. We traveled to Palenque, Yaxchilan, Bonampak and Plan de Ayutla in Chiapas along with about 10 other Maya enthusiasts. You can read more about this at the Maya Field Workshop website.

In my “day job” I travel and teach eLearning and instructional design with a base in Evergreen, Colorado. I look forward to many more posts.

Thanks and stay tuned!
John Daigle

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