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22nd European Maya Conference: Malm, Sweden

Maya Workshops

11 - 14 December 2017

The conference will be preceded by three-and-a-half day long workshops. A beginners, two Intermediate, one advanced and one special workshops will be available. All groups will be taught and supervised by experienced tutors. Tuition will be available in English, Spanish, and French (at Beginners level).


There will be separate registration available for both events.

Opening Lecture (11 December)

Name to be announced

The opening lecture serves as a brief introduction to Maya hieroglyphic writing as well as provides participants with the latest developments and discoveries in epigraphy.

Traditionally, the opening lecture is the first event of the EMC. It serves as an introduction to Maya hieroglyphic writing and provides participants with a general overview of the history of the decipherment. Note that this year the opening lecture will take place Monday afternoon and workshops will begin on Tuesday morning. Ensure that you arrive for registration on Monday.

Workshops (11-14 December)

The three-day workshop groups will be taught and supervised by experienced tutors. Participants will be tutored in English. Spanish explanations can be provided by tutors, on an individual basis, for workshops of all levels.

On Monday afternoon, participants will attend the introductory lecture and thereafter will be assigned to their individual workshops. Workshops will begin on Monday morning. The programme will finish on Friday afternoon with recapitulating sessions in each workshop.

Beginners Workshop

Introduction to Maya Writing
Tutor: Ramzy Barrois

The information drawn from Maya hieroglyphic texts has fundamentally changed our understanding of the ancient Maya culture. To be able to read what the Maya themselves wrote about their history and rituals provides a fascinating and unparalleled window into a past culture, whose descendants continue to thrive in the communities of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras.

The objective of this workshop is to provide an intensive introduction to the study of Maya hieroglyphs. Participants will have a chance to decipher hieroglyphs on their own during the workshop with the assistance of the tutors. General tuition will be given in English but explanations can also be provided in other languages (Spanish and French) on an individual basis. No previous knowledge of Maya culture, Maya hieroglyphs, ancient scripts, or linguistics is required to attend the workshop.

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

Admittance: 30 participants max.

Intermediate Workshop

This is an intermediate workshop open to those 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. This intermediate workshops will be taught in English.

Ritual Action in Maya Inscriptions
Tutors: Felix Kupprat, Christian Prager & Elisabeth Wagner

Maya inscriptions tell us a great deal about ritual activities. The inscriptions on stelae and other pieces of monumental art frequently contain auto-references to their inauguration ceremonies on important calendar stations. We also learn about royal rituals and ceremonies, including auto-sacrifice, offerings, dance and funerary rites. In this workshop we will read a variety of hieroglyphic texts related to the different dimensions of ritual life in the Classic period, from sites like Tikal, La Corona, Palenque, Yaxchilan, Copan, and the cave of Naj Tunich. The latter was an important pilgrimage center on a regional scale and the numerous hieroglyphic inscriptions painted in the cave provide fascinating contexts for the interpretation of politics and ritual action during the Late Classic Period. Through the analysis of text and context, we will try to define the concrete actions and the underlying believes that define certain groups of rituals. We will also discuss some of the ritual components of other fields of interaction, such as martial action, marriage or the ball game. The workshop combines lectures, exercises and student projects in an interactive hands-on forum. Groups of 3-4 participants will analyse the different types of ritual and the results will be discussed among all participants in order to obtain a broader perspective on the topic. A series of short presentations by the tutors will provide contextual information and background data. This workshop addresses intermediate to advanced students and assumes that participants have a basic or working knowledge of Maya hieroglyphic writing and the calendar.

Hieroglyphic texts will be analyzed in small groups of 3-5 persons, and afterwards discussed with the whole group. Short talks by the tutors will provide contextual information. If possible, attendees are kindly asked to bring a portable computer. However, a computer is not a requirement.

Admittance: 30 participants max.

Intermediate Workshop

This is an intermediate workshop open to those 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. This intermediate workshops will be taught in English.

Myths of the Ancient Maya
Tutors: Oswaldo Chinchilla & Marc Zender

Ancient Maya mural paintings, decorated ceramics, and sculptures preserve a wealth of representations of the primeval deeds of the gods who originated the world and created the conditions for life. In this workshop, we will explore pictorial records and hieroglyphic passages that provide terse but tantalizing clues about the mythical beliefs and narratives that circulated orally in ancient Maya communities, and were likely performed in dances and religious rituals. What do the hieroglyphic texts tell us about the myths of the ancient Maya? How do these narratives relate with those recorded in much later texts, such as the Popol Vuh? Can we interpret Classic Maya mythical imagery through the lens of the Popol Vuh? How do we assess the relevance of modern narratives for the study of ancient Maya myths? How are myths relevant for the study of ancient Maya religion, social life, and politics? We will examine different approaches to the study of ancient Maya myths, and the challenges imposed by the available sources. Students will engage in a critical scrutiny of selected pictorial and glyphic examples, and learn about recent epigraphic and iconographic breakthroughs, which offer ways to tackle the interpretation of ancient Maya myths and their artistic representations.

Admittance: 30 participants max.

Advanced Workshop

Advanced participants with well founded knowledge of Maya writing are offered a 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.

Paleography of Maya Hieroglyphic Writing
Tutors: Alfonso Lacadena, Albert Davletshin & Philipp Galeev

Scripts change over time and space, as do individual signs. Maya writing provides a unique opportunity for studying graphic variations because 1) Maya inscriptions cover a time span of almost 2000 years, 2) the texts stem from different sites situated all over large portions of the Maya Lowlands and 3) most of them are dated with the precision of one day in the text. On the other hand, the graphic variation of Maya writing is extremely complex; the signs are figurative and sophisticated. Thus, Maya inscriptions favour and necessitate a theory of graphic change that remains to be formally developed. During the workshop we will discuss a wide range of topics: graphic analysis of signs, rules of writing signs by hand, graphic variation in time and space, motivations of graphic change, and changes involving different levels of the script such as graphic elements, individual signs, and spellings. We will provide the participants with a workbook that is designed as a practical guide to Maya paleography including exercises and didactic materials. The workshop is practically oriented; we expect the students not only listen to the lectures but also to work with the provided materials because ... all glyphs are bright and beautiful.

Requirements: Relatively advanced knowledge of the Maya writing. Laptops are recommended.

Language: The Workshop will be conducted in English.

Admittance: 20 participants max.

Special Workshop

We are offering a Special Workshop this year that is open to participants on all levels. Some prior knowledge about Mesoamerican art and writing will be useful, but is not a prerequisite.

Paleography of Colonial documents: Working with Spanish and Maya Language Colonial Documentation
Tutor: John Chuchiak

This workshop will provide participants with an introduction to reading and transcribing documents written in Spanish America from the late fifteenth to the eighteenth centuries. The workshop will also provide a general introduction to the colonial institutions and types of documents produced in the greater Maya World for both beginners and specialists alike. Although the course sessions will be taught primarily in English, all of the documents will be in either Spanish or Yucatec Maya.

Requirements: Previous training on the subject is not required. Laptops are recommended.

Language: The Workshop will be conducted in English.

Admittance: 20 participants max.


For further information, please contact the Wayeb Conference Board or the local organisers (Bodil Liljefors-Persson) at emc2017@wayeb.org.