Central and South America

Portrait of the Ancient Maya
The ancient Maya, whose civilization flourished in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize over a thousand years ago, have long been wrapped in an air of mystery. Difficult terrain, a puzzling writing system, and a lack of historical record have all hampered our understanding of these rainforest dwellers. In the past four decades, however, archaeologists have made dramatic progress in understanding the nature of Maya religion and world view, the writing system of Mayan inscriptions, and Maya dynastic and military history. This illustrated lecture discusses the Maya in light of these key discoveries and the fresh understanding of ancient Maya life—both elite and ordinary—that they provide. Elin Danien

2012: End of the World, or Just a Blip in Time?

For the past few years there has been a growing belief that the Maya calendar predicts the world will come to an end in the year 2012. Mayanist Elin Danien will illustrate how this belief spread and what the Maya calendar actually says. Time will be allowed for questions from the audience.  Dr. Elin Danien

The Aztecs on the Eve of Conquest
In less than 200 years, the Aztecs rose from impoverished nomads to wealthy rulers who controlled all Mexico and drew tribute from the far reaches of Mesoamerica. Well known for their bloody rituals and skill at war, the Aztecs had other qualities that have fascinated people for almost five hundred years.  This illustrated talk includes some of the legends and the history of the Aztecs, their philosophy, religion, and the way they saw the world.  Translations of Aztec poetry and prose are used to reveal these ancient, complex people-in their own words. Elin Danien

Three Keys to the Ancient Maya
The ancient Maya, whose civilization flourished in the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico, Guatemala, and Belize over a thousand years ago, have long retained an air of mystery. Difficult terrain, a puzzling writing system, and a lack of historical record have all hampered our understanding of these Rainforest dwellers. In the past ten years, however, archaeologists have made dramatic progress in three areas: the nature of Maya religion and world view, deciphering Mayan hieroglyphs, and evidence for Maya dynastic and military history. This illustrated lecture discusses these key discoveries and the fresh understanding of ancient Maya life that they provide. Elin Danien

Not Your Mother's Hot Chocolate: The Amazing Beverage of the Ancient Maya
Thousands of years ago, the people of Mesoamerica knew the amazing properties of cacao. This talk discusses some of the remarkable uses of the fruit of the cacao tree: aphrodisiac, analgesic, ritual and status marker are just a few of the values this rare seed held for the inhabitants of ancient Mesoamerica. Temperamental and difficult to grow, cacao nurtured the Maya and after the Conquest, the craze for cacao swept through Europe. The subject of a papal ruling, suspected of fomenting political intrigue, cacao - cocoa - was a topic of mystery, gossip and lovers' quarrels. This talk will delight and surprise you with its revelations. Elin Danien

Amazonia: Emerald Dreams and Golden Delusions
From the collapse of the rubber trade in the 19th century to the recent failure of the Jari project, foreign exploits in the Amazon have been characterized by misadventure throughout history. In the past, grandiose plans for commercial development have been spectacular failures. The plundering that takes place today threatens the entire Amazonian ecosystem. Questions this lecture addresses include: What are the shared misconceptions that link the failed ventures of explorers, entrepreneurs, and investors alike? What are the real resources of the rain forest? Why is their commercial potential unexplored? Ms. Ann Guinan

Hidden Cities of the Rainforest
Maya sites, such as Tikal and El Mirador, now enveloped in the dense vegetation of the Peten, Guatemala's jungle province, were once flourishing cities over a thousand years ago. These giants of the rainforest boasted elaborate architecture and large populations in what is now an almost uninhabited area. Through slides, this lecture compares sites such as Tikal, Palenque, and Piedras Negras, and considers smaller settlement to highlight how the ancient Maya made such a successful living in one of the world's most difficult environments. Recent key discoveries that contribute to new understandings of Maya life will also be discussed. Dr. Elin Danien

200 Years of Exploration: the History of Maya Archaeology
The great Maya cities that lay in ruin from the Yucatan Peninsula to the highlands of Guatemala have been objects of curiosity from the time of the arrival of Europeans in the New World. This illustrated talk will look at the history of scholarly (and sometimes not so scholarly!) inquiry into the nature of ancient Maya life, from the first descriptions of Palenque in the late 1700s, to the Stephens and Catherwood's magnificent accounts, to the contemporary research around the Maya world. Dr. Elin Danien

Conquest and Conversion: Mesoamerican and European Encounters in the New World
The wonder of the "Other" during the Conquest of the Americas is plainly reflected in both European and indigenous documents from the 16th and 17th centuries. Upon the arrival of Europeans in the New World, mutually incomprehensible ways of life clashed with global implications. Recently, new documents and archaeological data have been brought together to alter our understanding of the complex relationships between the Maya, the Aztec, and Spanish conquistadors and missionaries. In this talk we will consider the impact of this exchange, including aspects of indigenous culture that survived contact with conquistadors and missionaries. Dr. Elin Danien

 

Contact
This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.


Trip Advisor
University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology | Penn Logo
3260 South Street | Philadelphia, PA 19104 | (215) 898-4000 | Contacts

With Art Philadelphia