University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Hero Twins of the Americas: Myths of Origin, Duality, and Vengeance


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Film Description:Myths concerning the “hero twins” are widespread from Canada to South America. In the archetypal Maya myth, a pair of twin brothers battle with a range of monsters and death deities as they seek to make the world safe for humankind. Instead of defeating their enemies in trials of strength, they outwit them in games of skill, ingenuity, and magic, offering role models of how best to survive death and ultimately attain rebirth into the sky. A variety of myths throughout North America draw on these same themes but differ dramatically in the details, thereby demonstrating the incredible antiquity of the basic story and the relationships between the diverse cultures of the New World.

Dr. Megan Kassabaum, Weingarten Assistant Curator, American Section and Dr. Simon Martin, Associate Curator / Keeper, American Section
Video Category:Lecture
Video Date:02/03/2016
Contributor: Megan Kassabaum | Simon Martin
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