24th European Maya Conference: Cracow, Poland

Contact and Conquest in the Maya World and Beyond

11 – 16 November 2019


Hosted by the Institute of Archaeology of Jagiellonian University in Cracow, the major theme of this year’s EMC will be contact and conquest as well as  colonization in the broadest sense of the words. By this we would like to refer to the events from 500 years ago, since the start of the conquest of Mexico – the colonization and collision of cultures from the early 16th century onwards, the changes it brought about and the dawn of globalization. Our primary concern will be the Maya area and Mesoamerica as a whole, although comparative perspectives are also invited. As such, papers concerning the interaction between different Mesoamerican societies and cultures before and after the conquest are also welcome.

We would like to address these main concepts – contact, conquest and colonization from a multitude of angles, considering what happens when cultures, people, ideas, ideologies, and products meet or when one culture/society conquests another and dominates it. Our intention is that the papers presented during the Cracow EMC will account for diverse fields and topics, including: archaeology, anthropology, linguistics, epigraphy, iconography, biology, genetics, ecology, history, political studies, and foodways.

Programme for Symposium

Contact and Conquest in the Maya World and Beyond

List of Speakers (in alphabetical order):

  • Omar Alcover (Brown University)
  • Lucas Asicona Ramírez (Jagiellonian University and Proyecto Conservación de Murales de Chajul)
  • Monika Banach (Jagiellonian University and Proyecto Conservación de Murales de Chajul)
  • Dmitri Beliaev (Russian State University for the Humanities)
  • John Chuchiak (Missouri State University)
  • Rosa-Maria Danbo (University of Copenhagen)
  • Albert Davletshin (Russian State University for the Humanities)
  • Elizabeth Graham (University College London)
  • Christophe Helmke (University of Copenhagen)
  • Bernard Hermes (Proyecto Prospección Arqueológica Subacuatica en los Alrededores de la Isla de Flores y el Sector SE del Lago Peten Itza)
  • Asia Jabłońska (University of Bonn)
  • Mary Kate Kelly (Tulane University)
  • Harri Kettunen (University of Helsinki)
  • Evgeniya Korovina (Institute of Linguistics, RAS)
  • Milan Kováč (Comenius University of Bratislava)
  • Magdalena Krzemień (Jagiellonian University, Proyecto Prospección Arqueológica Subacuatica en los Alrededores de la Isla de Flores y el Sector SE del Lago Peten Itza)
  • Dora Martiza García Patzan (Comenius University)
  • Thomas Garrison (Ithaca College)
  • Stephen Houston (Brown University)
  • Bruce Love (Anthropological Research Contributions Inc.)
  • Genner Llanes-Ortiz (Leiden University)
  • Jakub Maciejewski (Proyecto Prospección Arqueológica Subacuatica en los Alrededores de la Isla de Flores y el Sector SE del Lago Peten Itza)
  • Małgorzata Mileszczyk (Univesity of Warsaw, Proyecto Prospección Arqueológica Subacuatica en los Alrededores de la Isla de Flores y el Sector SE del Lago Peten Itza)
  • Jesper Nielsen (University of Copenhagen)
  • Justyna Olko (University of Warsaw)
  • Magnus Pharao Hansen (University of Copenhagen)
  • Mateusz Popek (Nicolaus Copernicus University in Toruń, Proyecto Prospección Arqueológica Subacuatica en los Alrededores de la Isla de Flores y el Sector SE del Lago Peten Itza)
  • Timothy Pugh (Queens College, City University of New York)
  • Robin Quizar (Metropolitan State University of Denver)
  • Katarzyna Radnicka (Jagiellonian University and Proyecto Conservación de Murales de Chajul)
  • Alexander Safronov (Lomonosov Moscow State University)
  • Michaela Šimonová (Comenius University of Bratislava)
  • Jakub Špoták (Comenius University of Bratislava)
  • Juan Luis Velásquez (Jagiellonian University and Proyecto Conservación de Murales de Chajul)
  • Igor Vinogradov (University of Bonn)
  • Lorraine Williams-Beck (Universidad Autónoma de Campeche)
  • Jarosław Źrałka (Jagiellonian University and Proyecto Conservación de Murales de Chajul)

The conference will be preceded by three-and-a-half day long workshops. A beginners, two Intermediate, one advanced and one special workshops will be available. All groups will be taught and supervised by experienced tutors. Tuition will be available in English, Spanish, and French (at Beginners level).

John Chuchiak (Missouri State University) and Harri Kettunen (University of Helsinki)

Introductory lecture on Contact and Conquest

Contact, Conquest and Infiltration: Interdynastic Marriages in the Maya World

Tutors: Dorota Bojkowska (Jagiellonian University), Ivan Savchenko (Independent Scholar) and Boguchwała Tuszyńska (Independent Scholar)

The workshop is open for participants with little or no prior knowledge of Maya epigraphy (beginner’s level), as well as more experienced attendants (intermediate level). During the workshop, participants will be provided with basic information on the Maya writing system, calendar, and linguistics in order to develop their ability to read Maya hieroglyphic inscriptions. The study group will focus on Classic period Maya texts relating to royal marriages among different ancient kingdoms. Interdynastic marriages have been confirmed at many Maya polities, with varying reasons behind such alliances: a consequence of military conflicts, serving to seal peaceful relationship, consolidation of power, extending a polity’s sphere of influence, and/or maintaining pre-existing dominance in a region. Participants will work on inscriptions with examples of such marriages and relationships among Classic Maya cities. The workshop will be conducted in English but, on an individual basis, explanations can also be provided in Polish, Russian and Spanish.

The Life and Times of K’an II: The great king of Caracol

Tutors: Christophe Helmke (University of Copenhagen) and Sergei Vepretskii (Russian State University for the Humanities)

Great kings hold a special place in history, given their deeds, actions, celebrated constructions, and the monuments commemorating their reign. The Caracol king, now known as K’an II, who reigned between ad 618 and 658, ushered in a period of prosperity for the kingdom. During this time, the monumental epicentre witnessed considerable construction works, as well as its integration with a series of satellite centres through a series of extensive causeways and the proliferation of tombs throughout the site attest to this period of affluence.

This workshop will focus on the hieroglyphic texts raised during the reign of K’an II, focusing on the diversity of historical narratives, their complementarity and the varied details that they each provide, at different points in the reign. Attendees will work in groups with a different selection of texts, the results of which will be presented in joint oral presentations at the close of the workshop. Prior attendance to a workshop on Maya epigraphy is required as well as a working knowledge of the calendar.  We will cater to intermediate-to-advanced levels. Glyphic texts and a selection of electronic reference materials will be provided at the onset of the workshop. Tutoring will be provided in English and Spanish (as well as Russian and Danish, upon request).  We look forward to your participation, so that we together may continue our exploration of the fascinating texts of K’an II.

Christ and Coatlicue: An Introduction to the Early Colonial Iconography of Mexico

Tutors: Jesper Nielsen (University of Copenhagen) and Mikkel Bøg Clemmensen (University of Copenhagen)

The murals, sculptures and paintings found in the churches, monasteries and books of 16th century New Spain constitute one of the richest sources to understanding not only the complex religious processes of hybridization of the early colonial period, but they also allow us to obtain glimpses of other aspects of the highly dynamic period following the conquest. Murals, as well as other kinds of religious art, were often composed and produced by indigenous artists, and although mainly following Euro-Christian models and prescripts, there are numerous examples of how the Christian images were adjusted and redesigned to make sense in and reflect the post-Columbian Mesoamerican world and reality, sometimes supplemented with images directly derived from pre-Columbian traditions. The workshop will first introduce the subject of “Indo-Christian” art as part of what can be called the visual evangelization and its theoretical and methodological background. We then turn to the mural programs of a selected number of Franciscan and Augustinian churches and monasteries from central Mexico and Yucatan, among them Malinalco, Culhuacan, Ixmiquilpan, Actopan, Xoxoteco and Izamal. Other topics discussed will be the apparent intentional re-use of pre-Columbian sculpture fragments in church façades and monastery walls (known as spolia) and the spectacular atrium crosses.

The workshop will consist of a series of presentations by the tutors, as well as a number of hands-on practical exercises. Attendance requires no previous experience with colonial iconography.

Inq’a iyoltzil inq’a o’tla xaol: historia, los ancestros y cosmovisión en la tradición oral ixil

Inq’a iyoltzil inq’a o’tla xaol: History, Ancestral Knowledge and Worldview in Ixil Maya Oral Traditions

Tutor(e)s: Lucas Asicona (independent scholar) and Sergio Romero (University of Texas at Austin)

En este taller analizaremos la tradición oral ixil, sus diferentes géneros y su relación con la cosmovisión e historia del pueblo ixil, en especial el del municipio de Chajul. Haremos también un análisis comparativo con los mitos y tradiciones de otros pueblos mayas, especialmente el k’iche’, y el maya yucateco. Tocaremos también brevemente el complejo tema de su relación con los textos e iconografía del periodo maya clásico. Los participantes trabajarán con textos en ixil con su respectiva tradición española y tendrán oportunidad de experimentar a través del discurso oral ixil, los vínculos profundos entre palabra, historia y cultura entre los pueblos mayas de hoy.

El taller se impartirá en español con explicaciones en inglés para quien lo necesite.

In this workshop we will examine the oral traditions of the Ixil Maya people of Guatemala, their discourse genres and their relationship with Ixil history and worldview, especially those of the township of Chajul. We will do a comparative analysis with the myths and oral tradition of other Maya peoples, especially the K’iche’ and the Yucatec Maya. We will briefly touch upon the complex intertextualities between them and Classic Maya inscriptions and iconography. Participants will directly engage texts in Ixil with their respective Spanish translation. They will have the opportunity to experience through our Ixil materials, the profound connection between language, history and culture among Maya peoples today.

The workshop will be held in Spanish with English explanations for participants who request it.

Flint and Steel: How the Maya and Spaniards Waged War, 1517-1697

Tutor: John Chuchiak (Missouri State University)

This workshop will provide participants with an introduction to the sources, cultural materials and documentation of the 180-year-long history of conquest and colonial military encounters between the Maya and the Spanish conquistadors.  By examining documents in translation, originally written in Spanish and various Maya languages, the workshop will enable students to better understand the nature, styles of warfare, weapons, and military and conquest organization of the Spanish and Maya peoples who met in a series of violent conflicts which spanned close to two centuries.  As opposed to the rapid conquest of the Aztecs which occurred in large scale battles and encounters, the conquest of the Maya region involved protracted guerilla warfare lasting for generations which brought great suffering to both sides in these conflicts.

The workshop will provide a general introduction to the nature of the types of warfare waged by both groups, and also examine the Maya and Spanish cultural practices related to warfare. A major focus will be on the analysis of various types of documents and artifacts related to warfare from both the Spanish and the greater Maya World for both beginners and specialists alike. Although the course sessions will be taught primarily in English, all of the documents will be in either Spanish or Maya languages (with English language translations provided).

Requirements: Previous training on the subject is not required. However, some knowledge of Spanish and/or a Maya language would be helpful. Laptops are recommended.

Language: The Workshop will be conducted in English (with sources in translation, along with examples from both Spanish and Maya colonial documents).


Monika Banach
Dorota Bojkowska
Piotr Kołodziejczyk
Magdalena Krzemień
Natalia Tołsty
Magdalena Więckowska
Jarosław Źrałka