Gabrielle Vail to explore Maya Literary Tradition in D.C., June 2

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Gabrielle Vail, PhD will present “To Bee or Not to Bee: Exploring the Maya Literary Tradition from the Perspective of the George E. Stuart Collection”, Washington, D.C., Friday, June 2, 2017, 6:30pm 8:45pm.

The lecture is sponsored by the Pre-Columbian Society of Washington D.C. You can find more details on their website.

About the lecture:
Maya screenfold books, or codices, offer a fascinating glimpse of the daily life, rituals, and beliefs of prehispanic Maya cultures in the centuries leading up to the Spanish conquest of the Yucatán Peninsula in the early 16th century. Of special interest are almanacs focusing on the ceremonies and activities associated with beekeeping with the stingless bee native to Mexico; astronomical tables that integrate events from primordial time with those from the time period when they were written; and depictions of ceremonies inaugurating the new year. Using facsimiles and documents from the George E. Stuart collection (currently housed at UNC-Chapel Hill), this presentation brings the pre-Columbian past of the Yucatán Peninsula to life and explores the relevance of the almanacs and texts recorded in the screenfold manuscripts to the Yucatec Maya living there today.

Gabrielle Vail received her PhD in anthropology from Tulane University, with a specialization in Maya archaeology.  Her research emphasizes prehispanic Maya ritual and religion, as well as calendrical and astronomical texts, as documented in the Maya screenfold codices.

Maya Field Workshop in Belize March 2018

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Maya Field Workshops in Belize March 10 -18 2018

Noted archaeologist and epigrapher, Dr. David Stuart will be conducting the workshop. Participants will visit some of the most important sites in Belize, including:

  • Altun Ha
  • Xunantunich
  • Caracol
  • Naranjo
  • Naktun
  • Lamanai

Watch this space for more details.


David Stuart to deliver keynote at Witte Museum Maya Exhibit 

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I just returned from Copan, Honduras and a great Maya Field Workshop conducted by Dr. David Stuart. David will be the keynote speaker of the 5th Annual Witte Museum in San Antonio on April 12, 2016 according to Witte President Marise McDermott.

The event marks Dr. Stuart’s first appearance at the Witte, during which he intends to share his insights about the translation and interpretation of Mayan hieroglyphic writing. The event takes place in the museum’s new Mays Family Center for exhibitions and special events and builds further excitement for the premiere of the center’s first exhibition: Maya: Hidden Worlds Revealed.

Dr. Stuart, who is now a professor of Mesoamerican Art at the University of Texas at Austin, began deciphering Mayan hieroglyphs at the age of 10, and delivered his first scholarly paper on Mayan glyphs at the age of 12. At age 18, Stuart became the youngest person to ever receive a MacArthur Fellowship, popularly known as the “Genius Award,” to further his groundbreaking studies into cracking the Maya code.


For tickets, visit www.wittemuseum.org/MayaSA


Maya Culture, featured at Friendship Bridge meeting in Evergreen, CO Jan. 19

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Friendship Bridge – Evergreen Circle
Tuesday, January 19, 2016 at 6:30pm
Evergreen Church of the Transfiguration

(Douglas Hall on the east end of downtown Evergreen)
R.S.V.P. to John Daigle, mayaglypher@gmail.com

During our travels to Tikal and Yaxha in Guatemala last year, my wife Vicki and I were honored to receive a very special wedding blessing from a Maya shaman (J’Men).


It was conducted by highly respected Reginaldo Chayax Huex, director of BioItzá a protected biosphere headquartered in San Jose on Lake Peten Itzá. He is one of fewer than 60 remaining persons who are fluent in the Itzá dialect of the Mayan language.

Many of our Evergreen, Colorado friends and neighbors have asked us to share our knowledge of both the ancient and present-day Maya culture. Over the past 40 years, we have collected quite a bit of information in our travels to Guatemala (Tikal, Yaxha, etc.) and Mexico (Palenque, Yaxchilan, Coba, etc.)

So we’ll be showing video clips of our exploits and pass along information I’ve accumulated while attending Maya Field Workshops with David Stuart and “auditing” classes with the legendary Linda Schele at the University of Texas at Austin.

Among our topics:

  • Our background and interest in the Maya culture (both ancient and contemporary). This will include a 5 to 10 minute video clips of our travels to iconic Maya sites of Tikal, Yaxha and Uaxactun, Aguateca, Palenque and Yaxchilan as well as present day Flores and the Lake Peten area.
  • A short clip of our “wedding blessing ceremony” conducted by Reginaldo Chayax Huex and his son, Aderito Chayax
  • Ancient Maya art (sculpture, ceramics and textiles) and how they can be seen in present-day art and textiles.
  • Mayan hieroglyphs, how they can be read and their relation to present-day Mayan languages.
  • How the accomplishments of the ancient Maya ancestors can be shared with the present-day descendants as a point of pride and inspiration.

Of course present day Maya face incredible economic and political challenges. So to some, a study of their ancient past may seem frivolous. Hopefully we offer some insights into how the ancient heritage can inspire a successful future.

We appreciate the invitation of Friendship Bridge to speak at Evergreen Circle. They work with indigenous Maya women where the rate of poverty in Guatemala is highest. Among other important goals, they assist with a successful microcredit program to foster:

  • A greater ability to weather economic shocks, such as illness or natural disaster
  • Decreased malnutrition
  • Decreased spousal abuse
  • Improved hygiene and health care
  • Increased number of children attending school, especially girls

Please visit the Friendship Bridge and Facebook pages to learn more.

Off to Austin and the 2016 Maya Meetings Jan 13-16



If you are going to the Maya Meetings next week, drop me a line. Vicki and I would love to see all our Maya Field Workshop buddies! I’ll be there for the workshops on Wednesday and Thursday as well as the Symposium. There’s another great lineup for this year’s Maya Meetings at the University of Texas at Austin. I’ve been going for many years since my first one in 1984. Here are some of the featured topics and speakers. You can still register here. (The glyph you see, is the Dos Pilas toponym or place name.)



Friday, January 15
Welcome Remarks
David Stuart

The 1960s Peabody–Harvard Project at Ceibal: An Overview of its Background, Goals and Achievements
Jeremy Sabloff

The Development of Political Complexity in the Maya Lowlands: New Insights from Preclassic Ceibal
Daniela Triadan

Classic Maya Commoners in the Petexbatun Region
Markus Eberl

King of the Hill: Demography, Dynasty and Diplomacy in the Northwestern Maya Mountains
Nicholas Carter

Yopaat, a Maya Storm God and its Relation to the Jaguar
Maria Eugenia Gutierrez

The (Re)invention of Incompletive Aspect in Cholan
Daniel Law

The Environmental Backdrop of the Petexbatun and Beyond
Tim Beach

Ceibal in Historical Context
David Stuart

Saturday Jan 16
The Political History of Classic-Period Ceibal
Takeshi Inomata

Setting the Stage for Kingship: Domestic and Public Rituals at Preclassic Ceibal
Jessica McLellan and Melissa Burham

God L: An Obsidian Merchant Deity
Karen Bassie

The Three Throne-Stones of Creation: San Bartólo Revisited
Ruud Van Akkeren

The Crown Was Held Above Him: Revisiting a Classic Maya Coronation Ceremony
Marc Zender

Architectural Framing in the Northern Maya Lowlands
Maline Werness–Rude and Kaylee Spencer

January 16
The Political History of Classic-Period Ceibal
Takeshi Inomata

Setting the Stage for Kingship: Domestic and Public Rituals at Preclassic Ceibal
Jessica McLellan and Melissa Burham

God L: An Obsidian Merchant Deity
Karen Bassie

The Three Throne-Stones of Creation: San Bartólo Revisited
Ruud Van Akkeren

The Crown Was Held Above Him: Revisiting a Classic Maya Coronation Ceremony
Marc Zender

Architectural Framing in the Northern Maya Lowlands
Maline Werness–Rude and Kaylee Spencer

Voices of the Vassals: Comparing the Rhetoric, History and Politics of La Corona and Dos Pilas
Marcello Canuto

New Evidence on Petexbatun and Pasión River Eighth-Century Economic and Political Change: Breakthroughs on the Mystery of the Collapse of Classic Maya Civilization
Arthur Demarest


Peek at the Maya Puuc Region this December

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puuc2Update: As of today there are only 1 or 2 spots left for the Maya Field Workshops, led by Dr. David Stuart, this coming December 5 to 13. They will be visiting 9 sites in the Yucatan’s Puuc Region. The area is famous for its unique architectural designs and beautiful façades with intricate stone mosaics, and elaborate figurative sculpture. I’ve attended MFW workshops for the past three years and they are “chance of a lifetime” learning experiences for any Mayanist, academic or serious amateur. David’s sister, Ann Stuart does a great job at the logistics of travel, food and accommodations.

You will explore the latest exciting finds in the area that have pushed the origins of the Puuc region well back into the Pre-Classic period. And near the end of the journey you will visit the charming town of Mani, where Xiu dynasty ruled at the time of Spanish contact and where Diego de Landa infamously burned many hieroglyphic books. Among the sites on the itinerary:

  • puuc-cUxmal
  • Oxkintok
  • Loltun
  • Kabah
  • Sayil
  • Kiuic
  • Edzna
  • Xocnaceh
  • Mani

Learn more about the Puuc region from these two excellent articles. The first is by Meghan Rubenstein, a Ph. D. candidate at the University of Texas. I had the pleasure of meeting Meghan during the Palenque workshop in 2012. Meghan’s blog posts chronicle her dissertation fieldwork at the ancient Maya site of Kabah.

The second article is co-authored by Meghan as well as David Stuart on his Decipherment blog.
“The Reading of Two Dates from the Codz Pop at Kabah, Yucatan.” 

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