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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.

Tentative PY 18-19 Program Series

September- Caitlin Earley: Assistant Professor of Art History at the University of Nevada, Reno

Lecture: Friday, September 21, 2018, 7:00 pm (Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 100e)

Reconstructing the history of Chinkultic

 Despite decades of excavation and a large corpus of monumental sculpture, the site of Chinkultic remains absent from many works on Maya history. This presentation, based on almost ten years of research on Chinkultic and the archaeology of the Comitán Valley, focuses on three groups of monuments from the site. Depicting royal accessions, rituals, and courtly interactions, these monuments reveal new information about the history of Chinkultic and the ways in which its elite artistic patrons wished to be perceived. They also bear important implications for understanding the sociopolitical dynamics of the Comitán Valley and, more broadly, art and politics on the western Maya frontier.

Saturday workshop - September 22, 2018, 9:00 - Noon (Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 6S)

 The Captive Maya Body at Chinkultic and Beyond

 This workshop begins with an iconographic problem in the monuments of Chinkultic: the representation of subordinate bodies and their identification as captives. We will consider what the monuments of Chinkultic reveal about the captive Maya body, and, working outward from the site, we will explore broader issues in the representation and display of captive bodies in Classic Maya art.  Workshop participants will reexamine the traditional understanding of captives and take steps toward the construction of more contextualized and nuanced approaches to the study of Maya captives and their role in Classic Maya art.  

40th Anniversary Event

Social Hour starts at 6:00 pm (details below)

October-David Stuart: Professor of Mesoamerican Art and Writing at the University of Texas at Austin

Lecture: Friday, October 19, 2018, 7:30 pm (Anderson Hall 111/112)

The Historical Record of Teotihuacan-Maya Relations

The year 378 C.E. saw a major political disruption in the central Maya lowlands, widely referred to as the “entrada.” This key event generally correlates with a significant appearance of Teotihuacan-related material culture in the region, as first defined by excavation projects at Tikal and surrounding sites in the 1960s. Since then, decipherment of hieroglyphic texts from Tikal and nearby centers showed that the entrada was described as the “arrival” of a mysterious character known as Sihyaj K’ahk’, who for many years wielded significant power over the region. In this talk I examine the latest historical evidence regarding this transformative event, including new readings that confirm the interpretation of the arrival as a military conquest alongside the establishment a new political order and alliance network with strong Teotihuacan connections. Although the nature of this long-distance interaction between Teotihuacan and the Maya lowlands remains poorly understood, multiple references to the “arrival” in later histories testify to its importance in the cultural memory of the Late Classic Maya.

Friday Evening Details

The Maya Society of Minnesota is celebrating 40 years of study related to the Ancient and Modern Maya, as well as other Mesoamerican cultures. The anniversary activities will honor the incredible intellectual legacy of our lecturers, our loyal and engaged membership and students, our collaborative partners and the cultural communities of Minnesota, as well as the work of the past and current leadership. We are sincerely honored to have David Stuart give the 40th Anniversary lecture. We hope that you will be able to join us.
  • 6:00 pm Social Hour ($25.00 donation suggested to help defray expenses)
  • 6:15 pm Meet and Greet our speaker Dr. David Stuart
  • 6:45 pm 40th Anniversary Program
  • 7:30 pm Lecture: The Historical Record of Teotihuacan-Tikal Relations, Dr. David Stuart, The David and Linda Schele Professor of Art and Writing, University of Texas at Austin

Saturday Lecture - October 20, 2018, 11:00 am (MIA Pillsbury Auditorium)

The Speaking Steps: Reconstructing Maya History on the Great Hieroglyphic Stairway of Copan

In 1884 the explorer Alfred Maudslay found several beautifully carved stones on the slope of a large Maya pyramid at Copan, Honduras. Excavated by Harvard’s Peabody Museum in the 1890s, the blocks proved to be part of a massive staircase, every riser adorned with a line of ornate hieroglyphs, and out of order for the most part – or so it seemed. For nearly a century the Great Hieroglyphic Stairway of Copan seemed a tantalizing but hopeless puzzle, but collaborative efforts in the 1980s started the process of its preservation and careful reconstruction. David Stuart has led the effort to decipher its long inscription, and will present the latest results on the reading of its complex stories of ancient Maya dynastic politics, ancestor worship, and warfare in the eight century.  

November- Thomas Garrison

Lecture: Friday, November 9, 2018, 7:00 pm (Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 100E)

Lecture: Friday, 

A Contested Landscape: Lidar and the Pervasiveness of Maya Warfare"
Recent large-scale lidar acquisitions in the Maya lowlands have revealed unprecedented views of the great cultural impact left upon this ancient landscape. Perhaps most surprising was the pervasiveness of grandiose features relating to warfare and defense. Common narratives of Maya conflict isolate war as a contributing factor to cultural decline, supported by hasty defense systems detected archaeologically, and also patterns in texts that show increasing enmity prior to societal collapse in the southern lowlands. Lidar shows that while these interpretations may be accurate, war was omnipresent throughout the time of the Preclassic and Classic Maya and may have at times actually been a catalyst for growth and stability. The lecture will give a background on remote sensing in Maya archaeology, including my earlier work around San Bartolo and Xultun.

Saturday workshop - November 10, 2018, 9:00 - Noon (Hamline: Giddens Learning Center 6S)

 Workshop: Saturday,  

"The Lidar Revolution and Achieving Remote Sensing's Potential in Maya Archaeology: A Lidar Workshop"
Recent sensational news stories about the stunning revelations of the ancient Maya provided by lidar technology have resonated with a global audience interested in past civilizations. In the Maya area, the fervor surrounding lidar has not been seen since the excitement centered on the decipherment of the Maya script that reached its peak in the 1980s. This workshop will show how lidar technology is a natural progression of a long history of remote sensing applications in the Maya lowlands and will provide participants with an opportunity to engage directly with the lidar data."

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.

February: Molly Tun S.A. topic

March: Bryan Just, Maya Vase Glyphs

March: Norman Hammond , TBD

May: Matthew Robb, Teotihuacan

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