14th European Maya Conference: Cracow, Poland

Maya Political Relations and Strategies

9 - 14 November 2009

The 14th European Maya Conference will be organised at the Jagellonian University in Cracow, Poland, from November 9-14, 2009. The conference will combine a three-and-a-half day long Maya Hieroglyphic Workshop (November 9 - 12) and a symposium (November, 13 - 14).

Programme for Workshop and Symposium

Symposium (13-14 November)

Papers will be presented by (in alphabetical order):

  • Joanne Baron (University of Pennsylvania), Marcello Canuto (Middle American Research Institute at Tulane) & Tomas Barrientos (Universidad del Valle de Guatemala)
  • Lorraine Williams-Beck (Universidad Autónoma de Campeche), Bodil Liljefors Persson (Malmö University) & Armando Anaya Hernández (Universidad Autónoma de Campeche)
  • Allen J. Christenson (Brigham Young University)
  • Iyaxel Anastasia Cojtí Ren (Universidad del Valle de Guatemala)
  • James A. Doyle (Brown University)
  • Hector Escobedo (Viceministro del Deporte y la Recreación, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes de Guatemala)
  • Hugo García Capistrán (UNAM)
  • Charles Golden (Brandeis University) & Andrew Scherer (Baylor University)
  • Elizabeth Graham (University College London)
  • Sven Gronemeyer (University of Bonn)
  • Nikolai Grube (University of Bonn)
  • Stanley Paul Guenter (Southern Methodist University)
  • Tsubasa Okoshi Harada (Universidad Sofía, Tokio)
  • Bernard Hermes (Nakum Archaeological Project, Guatemala), Jarosław Źrałka & Wiesław Koszkul (Jagiellonian University Cracow)
  • Milan Kováč (Comenius University Bratislava) & Ramzy R. Barrois (Ecole du Louvre, Paris)
  • Simon Martin (University of Pennsylvania Museum)
  • Carlos Pallán Gayol (INAH)
  • Arturo Pascual Soto & Erik Velásquez García (Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas, UNAM)
  • Alexandre Safronow (Lomonosov Moscow State University) & Dmitri Beliaev (Russian State University for the Humanities)
  • Robert Sharer & Loa Traxler (University of Pennsylvania Museum)

Maya Hieroglyphic Workshop (9-12 November)

Introductory Lecture

Simon Martin (University of Pennsylvania Museum)

Traditionally, the opening lecture is the first event of the EMC. It serves as a introduction to Maya hieroglyphic writing and provides participants with a general overview of the history of the decipherment.


All workshop groups will be taught and supervised by experienced tutors. Tuition will be in English, on beginners level Polish explanations can be provided on an individual basis.

On Tuesday morning participants will be assigned to their individual workshops. The programme will finish on Thursday afternoon with recapitulating sessions in each workshop.

Beginners Workshop

Tutors: Sven Gronemeyer (University of Bonn), Christophe Helmke (University of Copenhagen), Harri Kettunen (University of Helsinki), Guido Krempel (University of Bonn), Sebastian Matteo (SAB, Brussels), Boguchwała Tuszyńska (University of Poznań)

The Beginners Workshop is open to all participants with no prior or little knowledge of Maya writing. This workshop does not have a thematic focus but concentrates exclusively on teaching "newcomers", in a structured and didactic way, how to read Classic Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions. Every participant will be provided with a comprehensive special booklet – in addition to the official EMC workbook.

Participants will be divided in smaller groups and will be given step-to-step guidance by the tutors. General tuition will be given in English. Explanations can also be provided in other languages on an individual basis.

At the end of the three day workshop, participants will be able to understand the basic structure of a text, decipher calendrical information, reconstruct chronology, point at verbs and nominal phrases, and much more.

Intermediate Workshop

Our Intermediate Workshops are open to all participants who have basic knowledge of Maya writing: some calendrical knowledge and the ability to structure hieroglyphic inscriptions and understand their syntactic components are prerequisites to fruitful participation on this workshop level. All intermediate workshops will be taught in English.

Temple of the Murals on the Vulture Hill: Epigraphy of the Bonampak Region
Tutors: Dmitri Beliaev (Russian State University for the Humanities), Alexandre Safronov (The Moscow Lomonosov State University), Albert Davletshin (Russian State University for the Humanities)

The ancient Maya site of Bonampak was not among the largest and most powerful capitals. However, now it is one of the most famous Classic Maya cities thanks to the extraordinary murals found by Giles Healy in 1947. This discovery was very important for the development of Maya studies, and Bonampak murals still serve as a window to the Classic Maya courtly life. But the murals were not the only important find. Carved monuments with inscriptions from the Bonampak area are quite informative for the study of the local dynastic history and the internal structure of Classic Maya polities.

This workshop will focus on the hieroglyphic inscriptions from Bonampak, its neighbors such as Lacanha and Ojo de Agua and other looted sites in Bonampak area. The discussion will be structured along several major topics: dynastic history, political hierarchy, relations with neighboring polities (Yaxchilan, Piedras Negras, Sak Tz’i). A special attention will be paid to the Bonampak murals.

The goal of the workshop is to provide its participants with an advanced understanding of Classic Maya political history, spatial (?) terminology, titles and place names in the area of Bonampak. Some background knowledge in the Maya calendar, initial skills in the structural analysis of hieroglyphic inscriptions and a grasp of basic epigraphic material are required to participate in the workshop.

Selected readings:

  1. Coe, Michel D., and Mark van Stone. 2001. Reading the Maya glyphs. London.
  2. Martin, Simon, and Nikolai Grube. 2000 and 2008. Chronicle of Maya kings and queens: Deciphering the dynasties of the Ancient Maya. London.
  3. De la Fuente, Beatriz (ed.). 1998. La pintura mural prehispánica en México II. Área maya. Tomos I-II (Bonampak). Mexico.
  4. Mathews, Peter L. 1980. Notes on the dynastic sequence of Bonampak, Pt. 1. In: Third Palenque Round Table, 1978. Pt. 2, pp. 60-73. Austin. Available online at Mesoweb (English, Spanish)
  5. Miller, Mary E. 1986. Murals of Bonampak. Princenton.
  6. Stuart, David, and Stephen D. Houston. 1994. Classic Maya Place Names. Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, No.33, Washington, D.C.

Advanced Workshop

Advanced participants with well founded knowledge of Maya writing are a offered special Advanced Workshop to give them the opportunity to expand their proficiency of Classic Maya Writing and to provide them with insight into very special aspects of Classic Maya culture – though with specific focus on epigraphy, language and iconography.

The Inscriptions of Northern Yucatan
Tutors: Erik Boot (Independent Scholar, Rijswijk, The Netherlands), Alfonso Lacadena (Universidad Complutense de Madrid & Universidad Autónoma de Yucatán), Elisabeth Wagner (University of Bonn)

This year, the Advanced Workshop will direct its attention to hieroglyphic texts from northern Yucatan, Mexico, focussing on their epigraphic, calendrical, and linguistic idiosyncracies, their political and religious contents, and their relation to accompanying iconography. Based on the set of hieroglyphic texts that will be made available during this workshop, we will analyze common, rare, and region specific examples of phonology, morphology, and syntax and their interaction and usage of Ch'olan and Yucatecan languages in northern Yucatan. With respect to iconography, there also will be the possibility to discuss certain aspects specific for northern Yucatan in iconic representations accompanying the hieroglyphic texts in both architectural and monumental contexts as well as on portable objects, such as ceramic vessels.

During the three days of this workshop, each day will be dedicated to a specific set of texts: 1) selection of hieroglyphic texts on portable objects, mainly ceramics of the Chocholá-Maxcanú type (which includes comparison to monumental texts from sites as Uxmal, Dzibilchaltun, Oxkintok, Xcalumkin, Xculoc, and Xkochkax), 2) selection of texts from the hieroglyphic corpus of Ek' Balam (with excursions into the corpus of Chichen Itza), and 3) selection of texts from the hieroglyphic corpus of Chichen Itza.

The workshop will be introduced through a general presentation on the area, the (socio)linguistic differences as compared to the southern Maya lowlands, the diverse subject matter, and advances recently made in hieroglyphic decipherment. Each section will also be introduced through a presentation on the specific corpus of texts and images and the specific subjects that will be analyzed. Each day, the presentations will be followed by hands-on epigraphic and iconographic analysis of hieroglyphic texts and accompanying imagery, the results of which will be shared and discussed with the tutors of the workshop as well as the other participants.

To join and to enjoy this workshop, we recommend that participants have a good working knowledge of all Classic Maya hieroglyphic writing principles, well understand the Classic Maya calendar as well as its specific derivations in Yucatan, have a good understanding of general Maya linguistics (i.e., from syntax, to verb morphology, to possession), and a basic knowledge of Maya iconography.

A source book, with all relative illustrative material, will be made available to the participants of this workshop (as in previous years, at local print cost).

Local organisers: Wiesław Koszkul and Dr. Jarosław Źrałka

Summary of the event with images (in Polish) on Wirtualna Polska.