Maya Meetings in Austin TX
I just returned from the Maya Meetings in Austin TX. It was a great time. I met some of the most interesting people in the field of Mayan Archaeology. Basically everyone that I have ever read an article by has authored a book that I have was there.
A few notable names:
- George Stuart, David Stuart, Michael Coe, Bill Fash and Barbra Fash, Stephen Houston, Fred Valdez, Karl Taube
The meetings started on Friday afternoon with a keynote by David Stuart. I was very interested in meeting him. He is basically "Mr. Mayan Hieroglyphic" and is responsible for discovering the meaning behind hundreds of glyphs.
Later that night came a lecture by Michael Coe. He was such a nice guy to talk to and has been working on Mayan Hieroglyphics for nearly 50 years if not more. In the picture here is Michaeol Coe (left) and David Stuart (right). I also asked Michael Coe to sign two of my books that I have read several times on the Maya.
Michael Coe spoke about all his work in Mayan iconography and identified some of the similarities in several cultures in Mesoamerica. I took a lot of notes. It was really awesome being able to say that I took notes on a lecture by Michael Coe.
The next day there were presentations starting very early in the morning. I had a quick breakfast at my hotel and walked to campus which was about a 25 min walk. Luckily, the weather was perfect.
Dario A. Euraque presented a very fascinating presentation on Honduras and how the people there are starting to get confused about their Mayan heritage. He showed some very funny slides of places around towns, newspapers, buildings, restaurants, etc that all had small Mayan drawings or objects placed here and there just to try to identify with the Maya. He also showed a church that had Mayan gods painted on the outside. To them its just pretty, but it really doesn't make much sense to have Mayan gods on a church, but again....most people have no clue what they mean.
Several lectures followed for the rest of the day. I became good friends with a guy named Alan that lives in Houston. We both had very similar interest and decided to have lunch that afternoon. We were both very happy with the meetings thus far and that we got to meet some of the most important people in the field.
That night we were treated to a movie. But not just any movie. The movie was called "Breaking the Maya Code" and it was the premier showing of it. The man that made the movie was there and spoke a little about it. It basically told the history of how the Mayan Glyphs were decoded. Most of the people in the movie were all there so it was very cool to watch for the first time together with hundreds of people that were just as excited about it as the next person.
The film was two hours long. It will be shown on NOVA on PBS April 7th I believe. Check your local listings. You don't want to miss this.
I took nearly 8 pages of notes at the conference and met some people that I have only read about for years. It is always so interesting to be able to start talking about some Mayan ruins or something related to the Yucatan and everyone there always knows what you are talking about.
I also got to meet up with George Stuart and his very nice wife Melinda. Both of them are so kind. We talked for a while off and on throughout the weekend. George is also in the "Breaking the Maya Code" movie as well as his son David. George got to tell everyone his stories of early archaeology in Mexico and the Yucatan. When he speaks....everyone always listens. Out of respect and because his stories are usually very amusing and funny.
For those of you that don't know, George Stuart was the staff archaeologist for National Geographic and made some incredible discoveries while working with them. I've learned a lot by corresponding with him for the last year and we have become good friends. He lives near Asheville and is constantly telling me to come up when I can. His book collection is incredible. He has hand written books by Spanish conquistadors and some books that are signed by the authors from the 1800s. Most all of them pertain the to Mayan. He is in the process of moving them all to UNC for safe keeping.