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The Maya Society of Minnesota (MSM) for over 35 years has promoted study of the ancient and modern Maya. Our vision is that people have the opportunity to appreciate the Maya and to celebrate and respect their culture and history. Monthly programs and lectures on the Maya and other Mesoamerican cultures are supported by annual memberships and are open to the public. The society also cooperates with and supports schools and other arts and cultural organizations in community education programs.  The Maya Society of Minnesota adheres to the Society for American Archaeology Principles of Archaeological Ethics.

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Upcoming Lectures:

Volume XXXXI, Number 1 - FALL 2018

Program Year 2018-19 features an exceptional series of high quality and informative lectures. Our programming is one of the hidden secrets of the metropolitan area. Please join us in exploring Ancient and Modern Mesoamerica with some of its most accomplished scholars and cultural experts.

December - Rafael Cobos, Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán (John Harris Memorial Lecture)

Lecture: Friday, December 7, 2018, 7:00 pm
(Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 100E)

Maritime ports and their role in Chichén Itzá’s economy during the Terminal Classic period

During the tenth and eleventh centuries, Chichén Itzá utilized for economic reasons several maritime ports along the Caribbean as well as the Gulf of México coasts. The main function of these ports was to facilitate the movement of goods or merchandise imported by Chichén Itzá from different regions located within and beyond the Maya area. The goal of this conference is to explain the role played by these transshipment seaports in Chichén Itzá´s exchange system during the Terminal Classic period.

Saturday workshop - December 8, 2018, 9:00 - Noon (Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 6S)

Ancient climate and the collapse of civilization at Chichén Itzá, Yucatán

Archaeological data and evidence of climatic change are used to suggest that the collapse of Chichén Itzá in the northern Maya lowlands was the result of long and recurrent drought episodes in the eleventh century. Although environmental evidence indicates that drought episodes might have begun in the ninth century,they gradually increased in frequency through the eleventh century and generated devastating effects on the late Terminal Classic period civilization. Evidence of recurrent drought episodes in the northern lowlands is reported from the Holtún Cenote at Chichén Itzá. This cenote (sinkhole) shows two moments of the climatic change that affected northern Yucatán. First, it corroborates the existence of extreme dry environmental conditions during the Terminal Classic period dated between the ninth and eleventh centuries. Second, after C.E. 1100, the water level rose inside the Holtún Cenote when environmental conditions turned wetter at the beginning of the Postclassic period.

Steven B Kosiba portrait
January - Steve Kosiba, Ph.D., Department of Anthropology, University of Minnesota

 Lecture: Friday, January 25, 2019, 7:00 pm
(Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 100E)

In this talk, I discuss my recent archaeological and archival work on the means and materials by which the Incas constituted their history, with emphasis on the politics of the past in the center of their empire (Cusco, Peru).  My principal argument is that Inca notions of temporal sequences and events did not align with the linearity and universalism that have characterized dominant historical paradigms in the West, from early Christian historiography to the modern disciplines of archaeology or history.  Rather, for the Incas, actors of the past were actively present in the present—that is to say, they were literal persons who continued to act in and affect the outcome of their contemporary political struggles and social conflicts.  Such past actors commanded labor,  demanded respect, and responded to requests in capricious manners.  At times they were allies who aided Inca imperial endeavors, and at other times they were foes whose actions warranted punishment or death.  How might such a rendering of history and morality affect political life, particularly notions of tradition, authority, and social distinction?  I propose an answer to this question through a systematic analysis of Cusco's ceques—pathways and sight-lines that, taken together, not only oriented Cusco's people toward time and space, but also elevated the authority of particular people and wak'as, creating a social hierarchy rooted in deep time.

March - Bryan R. Just, Ph.D.

Lecture: Friday, March 1, 2019, 7:00 pm 
(Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 100E)

Maya Vase Glyphs. More details to follow.

Saturday workshop - March 2, 2019, 9:00 - Noon (Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 6S)
Maya Vase Glyphs. More details to follow.

April -
Professor Norman Hammond, ScD, FSA, FBA, Senior Fellow, McDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, Cambridge University

Lecture: Friday, April 5, 2019, 7:00 pm 
(Hamline: Drew Science 6s)

Exploring La Milpa: a Classic Maya city in Belize

La Milpa, the third-largest Maya city in Belize, was discovered in 1939, but in a location so remote that exploration began only in the 1990s. It lies on a high ridge, with plazas, palaces, temple-pyramids and ball-courts tightly packed. The surrounding landscape supported widespread settlement, much of it dating to the Late/Terminal Classic between AD 700 and 850, overlain by a 'cosmic design' placing La Milpa within the multi-directional Maya universe. A series of carved stelae include fragmentary and repositioned monuments perhaps reflecting activities around the time of the Spanish Conquest in the mid-sixteenth century. Abandonment of the Classic centre took place in the midst of a major royal construction program, for reasons still enigmatic.

Saturday workshop - April 6, 2019, 9:00 - Noon (Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 6S)

Economy, culture and society of the Middle Preclassic Maya village at Cuello, Belize

Numerous seasons of intensive excavation over more than a quarter-century of the finely-stratified remains at Cuello showed occupation from ca.1200 BC - AD 400 in a single locus. Well-preserved plant and animal remains allow subsistence economy to be reconstructed, while artifacts including tools, ceramics, and figurines document early art and trade.

May - Matthew H. Robb, Chief Curator of the Fowler Museum at UCLA

Lecture: Friday, May 3, 2019, 7:00 pm 
(Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 100E)

City of Water, City of Fire: Space, Object and Identity in the City of the Gods

The city of Teotihuacan was one of the most important urban centers of the ancient Americas. Drawing on a diverse population from all over Mesoamerica, Teotihuacan is at once quintessentially of its place and time while it also transcends those boundaries. Even as modern city-dwellers would instantly recognize its grid and multi-family dwellings as characteristics of our own urban forms, its monumental pyramids and hidden tunnels speak to an altogether different order, one drawn from the power of the natural world. This lecture will give an overview of the recent exhibition Teotihuacan: City of Water, City of Fire, which emphasizes recent discoveries at the site as it seeks to understand Teotihuacan as an exemplary, even archetypal, city of ancient Mexico – and a place where art served to bind the diverse population together. 

Saturday workshop - May 4, 2019, 9:00 - Noon (Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 6S)
More details to follow.

Questions? Contact the Maya Society at or 952-542-9851 (Tom Olson), 651-221-4576 (Ed Fleming), 612-963-8857 (Molly Tun).