The May Maya workshops

Polish Mayanists during workshops in Warsaw, May 2018.
Polish Mayanists during workshops in Warsaw, May 2018.

The academic year 2006/07 saw the start of the tradition of organizing workshops at the Institute of Archaeology of the University of Warsaw, during which participants of the course would meet in person and analyze Maya glyphic inscriptions under the supervision of tutors. The workshops, tutored by Nikolai Grube and Boguchwała Tuszyńska, usually take place after the end of classes, but before the final exam, which gives students an opportunity to check their knowledge and gain more experience in the field of practical reading of glyphs. It helps to clarify any issues and difficulties with understanding Maya writing.

In 2007, during the two-day workshop „Wars, rituals and genealogies – divine lords of the Maya in hieroglyphic inscriptions„,  we worked with students on short texts, thanks to which participants could learn various expressions used to describe warfare, ceremonies of taking power and rituals performed, or to talk about family ties. In 2008 and 2009, the workshops were devoted to the inscription from Panel of 96 Glyphs in Palenque, distinguished by its exceptionally beautiful calligraphy and a considerable challenge for people who are just starting their adventure with the Maya script.

Participants from abroad could not participate in the live workshops, so in order to give them a chance to work on inscriptions, we also prepared „on-line” workshops on the course platform. Groups of several people, which could also include willing students from Poland, read and  discussed selected texts together with the host on a specially created forum.

Initially, the workshops were intended only for students participating in the course in a given academic year, but after some time it turned out that people from previous editions, staying in contact with the teacher, were still  very interested. Therefore, it was possible to prepare more advanced materials, with more inscriptions, focusing on a chosen Maya center or even on a slightly larger region. In 2011, the topic was „The Usumacinta Region – Subsidiary Sites„, students worked on texts from La Pasadita, Laxtunich and Site R (subordinate to the kingdom of Yaxchilan) and El Cayo and La Mar (closely related to the kingdom of Piedras Negras).

In 2013, a workshop entitled „The Extraordinary Stelae of Waxaklajuun Ubaah K’awiil” was devoted to inscriptions carved on the unique beauty and rich iconography of steles erected by the thirteenth ruler of Copan (Honduras) telling about the rituals performed by him.

In 2017 and 2018, the workshop was called  „Inscriptions from the three great Late Classic kings of Tikal„. It focused on glyphic texts that recall events in the life of the rulers of Tikal: Yasaw Chan K’awiil, Yik’in Chan K’awiil and Yax Nuun Ahiin II.

In 2020, due to the pandemic, it was not possible to organize live workshops, but in May 2021 they were held „online” on the Zoom platform. This time the participants were working on selected inscriptions  from different Maya cities.

© XIBALBA sp. z o.o. 2021