The Third Annual Tulane Maya Symposium & Workshop Retrospective:

Fifteen Centuries of Maya Literature from the Northern Lowlands

Tulane University
October 29 - October 31, 2004
Symposium Home Schedule 2003 Symposium Middle American Research Instititute Stone Center for Latin American Studies

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Ball Court at Chichen Itza





Kabah Casa 2a Front





Acanceh by T. Mahler








The Yucatán Peninsula is unique in the Maya world in having a continuous literary tradition dating from the prehispanic to the contemporary period. The 2004 Symposium explored hieroglyphic, Colonial, and contemporary texts written by the Yucatec Maya. The program featured a series of lectures, discussions, and workshops led by specialists in the fields of epigraphy, linguistics, anthropology, and Colonial history.

Participants' thoughts on the 2004 Symposium:

"I enjoyed the clarity of the lectures and the willingness of the speakers to interact with the audience."

"Very well organized."

"I enjoyed the unified theme; each presenter related to and touched on specific points addressed by other speakers."

"Excellent speakers; all of them were very clear, concise, and keyed to the audience level."

"I enjoyed the variety and depth of the lectures."

"Inspiring and fun."


The 2004 Tulane Maya Symposium and Workshop began with a keynote address by Dr. Anthony F. Aveni entitled "The Sky in Mayan Literature." Saturday’s program included lectures on hieroglyphic texts from the Classic and Postclassic periods, Colonial period native literature, and indigenous texts from the 19th and 20th centuries. Lectures were be presented by Markus Eberl, Alfonso Lacadena, Shannon Plank, Gabrielle Vail, John Chuchiak, Victoria R. Bricker, and Paul Sullivan. Sunday workshops at both the beginner and intermediate/advanced levels were led by Bryan R. Just, Timothy Knowlton, Victoria R. Bricker and Harvey M. Bricker, and Alfonso Lacadena.

Special Events:

Maya Symposium Exhibit: Tulane University Latin American Library

The holdings of the Latin American Library at Tulane include a large number of rubbings of Classic Maya inscriptions by Merle Green Robertson and an important collection of documents, written in the Maya language of Yucatán, dating from the sixteenth through eighteenth centuries, as well as published works – by Tulane authors and others – that exemplify the literary virtuosity of the Maya of the Northern Lowlands. Featured in the exhibition were rubbings of Classic period texts, facsimiles of Postclassic Maya codices, handwritten documents from the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, multiple editions of four books of Chilam Balam (those from Chumayel, Chan Kan, Kaua, and Mani), and twentieth-century examples of Maya literature. Of special interest is the relationship between a Spanish chapbook containing a tale from A Thousand and One Nights and Maya texts in three Books of Chilam Balam, suggesting that some eighteenth-century Maya literature was inspired by Spanish (and ultimately Arabic) sources.
Presented by Masaki Noguchi and Victoria R. Bricker.

Latin American Library home page

Maya Symposium Teachers Workshop

The Latin American Resource Center planned a special itinerary for teachers interested in attending the symposium and workshop. Highlights included A Photographic Tour of the Northern Maya Lowlands through the Lens of the Middle American Research Institute, a visit to the Middle American Research Institute, a special presentation at the Latin American Library, the keynote address: The Sky in Mayan Literature by Anthony Aveni, lectures: An Introduction to the Glyphic Inscriptions of Northern Yucatán and Ritual and Prophecy in the Maya Codices, and What's Your Sign?: Maya Interpretations of the Zodiac workshop. Scholarships were available for New Orleans area teachers. For a detailed description of the weekend's events, see the LARC workshops and conferences page.

Saturday Night Film Screening

The Maya Symposium presented the MARI film Men, Mules, and Machetes.


Friday, October 29, 2004er 29

The 2004 Symposium began with the opening session, A Photographic Tour of the Northern Maya Lowlands through the Lens of the Middle American Research Institute, by David R. Hixson and David S. Anderson. The program continued Friday afternoon with events in MARI and the Latin American Library.

On Friday evening, our keynote speaker Dr. Anthony F. Aveni presented his lecture, The Sky in Mayan Literature. Dr. Aveni’s lecture provided an overview of what we have learned about Maya astronomy and its relationship to social and religious practices from a study of the hieroglyphic Maya codices over the past three decades. We owe much of this knowledge to research based at Tulane University, especially the work of Drs. Victoria and Harvey Bricker, who have developed some novel approaches to reading the almanacs and tables that compose the Maya codices.

Saturday, October 30, 2004


An Introduction to the Glyphic Inscriptions of Northern Yucatán
Markus Eberl

The Inscriptions of Ek’ Balam, a Terminal Classic Maya Kingdom in Northern Yucatán
Alfonso Lacadena, Leticia Vargas, and Víctor Castillo

In the Threshold: Women, Mothers, and Genre in the Ninth-Century Texts of Chichén Itzá
Shannon Plank

Ritual and Prophecy in the Maya Codices
Gabrielle Vail

Hieroglyphs Reborn: The Survival and Colonial Production of Hieroglyphic Codices and Their Use in Post-Conquest Maya Religion, 1570-1750
John F. Chuchiak

The Relationship between the Books of Chilam Balam and the Precolumbian Maya Codices
Victoria R. Bricker

Elements of Contemporary Maya Prophecy
Paul Sullivan

Question and Answer Period and Discussion

Sunday, October 31


Beginner level:

The Art of Late Maya Sculpture, A.D. 750-1100
Bryan R. Just

Creation and Cosmology in the Books of Chilam Balam
Timothy Knowlton

Intermediate/advanced level:

Astronomical Tables in the Maya Codices: Mars and the Ancient Maya
Victoria R. Bricker and Harvey M. Bricker

The Inscriptions of Ek’ Balam
Alfonso Lacadena

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