Penn Museum’s 26th ANNUAL MAYA WEEKEND Focuses on “The Future of the Maya World”

13 MARCH 2008, PHILADELPHIA, PA—The preservation of ancient Maya sites, efforts to sustain modern Maya cultural traditions, and the need to conserve vanishing tropical forests and coastal environments—all are on the agenda 11-13 April 2008, when the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology collaborates with the Nature Conservancy to present its 26th annual Maya Weekend. This year’s theme: “The Future of the Maya World.”

Highlight speakers for this year’s event, which annually brings together hundreds of Maya enthusiasts, include keynote speaker Marie Claire Paiz, director of the Nature Conservancy’s Southern Mexico Program, and Maya banquet speaker Robert K. Whitman, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, and Senior Investigator for the National Arts Crime Team.

Penn Museum’s Maya Weekend is one of the largest and oldest meetings in the United States devoted to Maya studies. This year brings together international scholars, speakers of Mayan descent, conservationists, and others actively involved with traditional Maya communities within Mexico and Central American countries, for a lively and engaging look at the future of the Maya World.

Brochures are available through the Museum’s Special Events Office by calling (215) 898-4890.

As always, participants can expect a rich intellectual experience—and activity choices—as the weekend provides diverse opportunities for engagement. Included in this year's weekend are leading archaeologists and Maya scholars offering a variety of illustrated lectures, such as Saturday's talk, “Landmark Victory for the Maya in Belize” by Cristina Coc, Director of the Julian Cho Society in Belize. A champion of indigenous Maya issues in southern Belize, Dr. Coc helped push through the recent decision by the Supreme Court of Belize to uphold the land tenure rights of traditional villages.

Barbara Knoke de Arathoon, Curator and Exhibits Director for the Museo Ixchel del Traje Indígena in Guatemala City, speaks Sunday. She has been working to document the changing weaving and costume traditions of modern highland Maya communities. Her research with the Museo Ixchel on preserving the history of this vibrant textile tradition was recently awarded Spain's Queen Sofia Prize for cultural heritage.

Throughout the weekend, guests can enjoy hands-on workshops on Maya glyph-reading for beginners and more advanced glyph readers alike, led by leading epigraphers Simon Martin and Marc Zender.

The program begins Friday evening with an opening welcome by Dr. Richard Hodges, The Williams Director of Penn Museum, who introduces keynote speaker Marie Claire Paiz, of the Nature Conservancy. Ms. Paiz speaks about “nature-culture” with her talk, “Trees and Temples – Conservation in the Maya Forest.” Her presentation focuses on the Nature Conservancy’s efforts to protect the cultural environment through understanding nature–centered indigenous customs, protecting cultural landscapes, and building collaborations with groups doing archaeological preservation. Her talk is followed by a festive reception in the Lower Egyptian Gallery.

Saturday offers seven lectures by scholars from across the U.S. and abroad, with topics ranging from the preservation of Mayan culture to current archaeological work at Mayan sites. At the optional Maya Banquet Saturday night, guests hear from F.B.I. Special Agent Robert K. Whitman, as he presents “U.S. vs Art Thieves: Tales of the FBI’s Real Indiana Jones.”

The exploration continues on Sunday with morning talks and workshops, winding down Sunday afternoon with the Despedida (farewell) reception in the Lower Egyptian Gallery. Two authors provide book signing opportunities: Jeremy Sabloff, former Penn Museum Director, Maya expert and Penn Museum Curator of American Archaeology, signs his new book, Why Archaeology Matters. Author and photographer Bruce T. Martin signs copies of his book, Look Close/See Far: A Cultural Portrait of the Maya.

Attendees to the Maya Weekend have the opportunity to visit Penn Museum’s Mesoamerican gallery, which draws upon the Museum’s strong collection and research fieldwork to offer a thematic look at the Maya and other ancient peoples of the region. World famous grand stone monuments and monumental circular altars from the Museum’s early Maya excavations at Piedras Negras, Guatemala, and Caracol, Belize, dominate the gallery.

The Annual Maya Weekend is supported in part by a contribution from Far Horizons Archaeological and Cultural Trips, and by MesoWeb.

Admission to the Annual Maya Weekend, including an information packet, continental breakfasts, refreshment breaks and receptions, is $175; $140 for Museum Members and senior citizens (over 62) with identification; and $75 for full-time students with identification. Banquet reservations are $60; optional Saturday box lunch reservations are $14 each. For reservation information, contact the Special Events Office, University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, 3260 South Street, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, or call the office at (215) 898-4890 Monday through Friday, 9am to 4:30pm.

The University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, located at 3260 South Streets on the Penn campus in Philadelphia, is dedicated to the study and understanding of human history and diversity. Founded in 1887, the Museum has sent more than 400 archaeological and anthropological expeditions to all the inhabited continents of the world. With an active exhibition schedule and educational programming for children and adults, the Museum offers the public an opportunity to share in the ongoing discovery of humankind's collective heritage. For general information, visitors may call (215) 898-4000, or visit the Museum’s award-winning website at


3260 South Street
Philadelphia, PA 19104
(215) 898-4000


Tuesday-Sunday: 10:00am - 5:00pm
First Wednesdays: 10:00am - 8:00pm
Monday: CLOSED


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