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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 XXXX, Number 2 - WINTER/SPRING 2018

Program Year 2017-18 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.

June- Dr. Kelli Carmean: EKU Foundation Professor and Professor of Antrhopology, Sociology, and Social Work

Lecture: Friday, June 8, 2018, 7:00 pm (Hamline: Giddens 100e)

Historical Fact and Creative Fiction in the Writing of House of the Waterlily: A Novel of the Ancient Maya World

[English]  House of the Waterlily is historical fiction based firmly in archaeological evidence and Maya hieroglyphic decipherment. It is set in the lowland jungles of present-day Guatemala, around 830 AD, in an era archaeologists call the Classic Maya collapse. It is told from the point of view of elderly Lady Winik, formerly elite, who survived the fall of her city. Old Winik recounts her life’s tumultuous story to her young granddaughter, Lily Bean, telling of a time when highborn like her did not toil in the dirt of a dusty cornfield. Instead, they lived in luxury in fine palaces in grand painted cities. The world was rich with wisdom and astronomy, vibrant with ceremony atop magnificent temples, with libraries and fine jade, with great art and splendor. And we listen as well as Lady Winik tells the gripping story of what happened to change that brilliant world—and her own life’s known trajectory—and bring Maya civilization, quite literally, crumbling into ruins. 

[Español]   Casa del Nenúfar es una ficción histórica basada firmemente en la evidencia arqueológica y el desciframiento jeroglífico maya. Se encuentra en las selvas bajas de la actual Guatemala, alrededor de 830 dC, en una era que los arqueólogos llaman el punto del colapso del Maya Clásico. Se cuenta desde el punto de vista de la anciana Lady Winik, antigua élite, que sobrevivió a la caída de su ciudad. El viejo Winik relata la historia tumultuosa de su vida a su pequeña nieta, Lily Bean, relatando un momento en que la nobleza como ella no trabajaba en la tierra polvorienta de un campo de maíz. En cambio, vivían en lujosos palacios en las grandes ciudades pintadas. El mundo era rico en sabiduría y astronomía, vibrante con ceremonias encima de templos magníficos, con bibliotecas y jade fino, con gran arte y esplendor.  Escuchamos también a Lady Winik cuenta su historia emocionante de lo que sucedió para cambiar ese mundo brillante -y la trayectoria conocida de su propia vida- y llevar a la civilización Maya, literalmente, a derrumbarse en ruinas.

Saturday workshop - June 9, 2018, 9:00 - Noon (Hamline: Giddens 100e)

Part 1: Maya Calendars (including the 2012 Baloney) & Emblem Glyphs. Workshop concludes with drawing your birthday in glyphs, and creating your very own emblem glyph.

Part 2: Join Dr. Kelli Carmean as we discuss House of the Waterlily!

House of the Waterlily is an excellent introduction into the world of the Classic Period Maya in large part because Carmean is a fine storyteller who weaves her narrative as beautifully as a ‘fine-spun’ huipil. This book would be an excellent addition to the course reading list for undergraduate students who are studying the ancient Maya.” ~ Scott Simmons, UNC Wilmington.

“Although fiction, House of the Waterlily is a powerful platform from which to begin a discussion of vast catastrophic events in the context of daily life in the late Classic period of this fascinating pre-Columbian civilization.” ~ Rob Swigart, author, Xibalba Gate: A Novel of the Classic Maya.

Until Nov 30, there’s a 25% discount on paperbacks (Promo Code CAR495) at checkout.

To assist the cause of cultural heritage, all royalties will go to MAM Mayas for Ancient Mayan:

Tentative PY 18-19 Program Series

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

Presentation: 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.

 Workshop: 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.  

October- David Stuart/40th Anniversary

Lecture: Friday, 


 Workshop: Saturday, 


November- Thomas Garrison

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.

 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: __)

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: ___)

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.

January - Steven Kosiba S.A. topic
February - Ed Fleming Midwest topic
March -  Molly Tun S.A. topic
April -  Norman Hammond (tentative)
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).