27th European Maya Conference: Krakow, Poland

Maya Workshops

29 November – 01 December 2022


The conference will be preceded by three-day-long workshops. All groups will be taught and supervised by experienced tutors. Tuition will be available in English and Spanish.


Keynote lecture (Monday 28 November):  

John F. Chuchiak IV (Missouri University) and Harri Kettunen (University of Helsinki):
Mapping the mundo maya: The History of the Cartography of the Yucatan Peninsula”


This opening presentation of the European Maya Conference (EMC) will examine the cartography of the Yucatan Peninsula from the earliest maps to the latest, concentrating on the early history of the cartography of the area. We will explore the role of cartographic charts and images included in, e.g., Landa’s Relación de las Cosas de Yucatan and how they advanced the geographic knowledge of the Yucatan Peninsula in the official circles of 16th-century Spanish cartography. These maps played a major role in demarcating the first imperial royal maps of Spain’s New World possessions and the elaboration of the formal official General Histories of the Indies. Besides these early maps, we will also explore the development of later maps in the area to illustrate the way in which these reflect the historical realities and politics in the mundo maya. The presentation closes with an overview of the latest developments in cartography, including LiDAR technology and 3D scanning.

Workshops (29 November-01 December)

The three-day workshop groups will be taught and supervised by experienced tutors. Participants will be tutored in English, except in certain cases in Spanish (see the programme). Spanish explanations can be provided by tutors, on an individual basis, for workshops of all levels.

Searching for the Original Names of Classic Maya Cities: Toponyms in the Maya Writing System

Tutors: Dorota Bojkowska (Jagiellonian University of Krakow) and Boguchwała Tuszyńska (Independent Scholar)

This Beginners Workshop is intended for participants who have never worked on Maya glyphs or have only a limited knowledge of the Maya writing system. However, everyone interested in the topic of place names is welcome.
Participants will be provided with basic information on the Maya writing system, calendar and linguistics. This workshop will focus on the toponyms recorded in glyphic inscriptions from different polities within the Maya Lowlands.
The word ‘toponym’ is derived from Greek and refers to place names, especially those originated from topographical features. This also applies to Maya place names, which are very often based on particular landscape features such as mountains, stones or bodies of water. Working on specific glyphic texts, attendees will become more familiar not only with the Maya writing system but also with the beauty and creativity of Maya place names and their connection to the surrounding landscape.
The workshop will be conducted in English but, on an individual basis, explanations can be also provided in Polish and Spanish.

Admittance: 40

Mapping Maya Discourse: Geographic Information Systems in the Analysis of Classic Maya Texts and Imagery

Tutors: Felix Kupprat (UNAM) and Verónica Amellali Vázquez López (Tulane University)

The Maya area was, and remains, a culturally complex and heterogeneous region. As such, an ever-increasing number of studies have focused on its inner and outer sociocultural boundaries. Innovations in mapping and spatial distribution analyses have proven to be powerful tools for reconstructing such limits, including political, cultural or identitary distinctions revealed by textual traits and graphic motifs. In this workshop, we will analyse several datasets comprised of Classic Maya texts and imagery by the means of Geographic Information Systems (GIS) to address questions about political and cultural spheres within discrete time periods. The workshop includes a practical introduction to GIS, examples of spatial distribution analysis in Maya epigraphy and iconography and extensive hands-on exercises in which participants work on dynamically defined sets of glyphic texts and imagery, extracting relevant information and processing it with the open-source software package QGIS.

Participants should at least have a basic understanding of Maya epigraphy and iconography, but no prior knowledge of GIS is required. We provide some sets of glyphic texts and images for predefined exercises, with a focus on the polities of the Central Maya Lowlands, but in the case that participants have particular interests or ongoing research projects that could potentially incorporate spatial analyses, they are encouraged to bring their own materials in digital form. It would be greatly beneficial if participants had a laptop with the latest version of QGIS installed (available for Linux, macOS and Windows on https://qgis.org) and at least 5 GB of available internal or external storage. Additional data will be available for download shortly before the workshop and can also be distributed on-site via USB flash drives (bring a USB-A adapter if you need one!).

Admittance: 25

Mapping the Maya Region: Explorations in the Sources on the Cartography and Cultural Geography of the Pre-Contact and Colonial Maya

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

This workshop explores, through an interdisciplinary approach, the main theme of this conference for the pre-contact and colonial periods in the Maya region. The workshop will include introductory lectures on the topic of the cartography and toponomastics of the Maya region from an interdisciplinary perspective. By analyzing the epigraphic, cartographic, ethnohistorical, and historical evidence, this workshop will introduce participants to the historical context, and primary sources related to, the development of the cartography and mapping of the cultural and physical geography of the greater Maya region of Yucatan, Chiapas, Guatemala, Belize, and Honduras. For comparative purposes, we will also briefly explore the greater Mesoamerican cultural sphere, particularly in relation to the study of place names (toponomastics).

In hands-on sessions, participants will analyze and work with a selection of hieroglyphic texts and English translations of important colonial sources for the mapping and cartographic history of the Maya region. Other sources to be examined include cartographic imagery and associated maps, as well as other primary eye-witness accounts of the early geographic encounters between Europeans colonizers and the Maya. Moreover, individually and/or in groups, these materials will serve as the basis for final presentations on selected aspects of the cartography or cultural geography of the Maya region. These will focus on researching important aspects of the geography and cartography of the Maya region (mapping, early explorations and encounters), or on specific aspects of the geography of the Maya region (such as a detailed study of the mountains, rivers, cenotes, caves, natural environment, etc).

Although no prior knowledge of Maya hieroglyphic writing or colonial sources is essential, a general knowledge of Spanish would be beneficial.

Admittance: 25

Special talk on Wednesday 30 November

There will be a special talk titled “Mesoamerican Cartography: Media, Concepts and Origins” by Christophe Helmke (University of Copenhagen) on Wednesday,  November 30th at 7pm.


The cartographic tradition of Mesoamerica is amply attested in the documents produced in the 16th and early 17th centuries—in the wake of the Spanish conquest.  Media and supporting materials serve to create the dichotomy between mapas (produced on sheets of paper) and lienzos (rendered on large sheets of textiles).  Despite the differences in media and physical scale, the thematic content and format are generally one and the same, although some variation exists, often blending geographic references and historic events in the same space.  Whereas most attestations of Mesoamerican cartography can de dated to the first few decades following the Spanish conquest, this tradition is of much greater antiquity. In fact, its gestation is now well-documented among the Epiclassic cultures of Central Mexico (c. AD 650-1000), and key features and traits can be traced even further back, to the rich representational conventions of the Classic metropolis: Teotihuacan (c. AD 200-650).  In this presentation, the main characteristics and features of mapas will be presented, competing interpretations of what these sources represent in structural and narrative terms are discussed, all the while illustrating a wide variety of mapas and lienzos, before delving back to their Precolumbian origins, showing the evolution and progression of this lengthy tradition.


For further information, please contact the Wayeb Conference Board or the local organisers at emc2022@wayeb.org.

Related Links

Workshop Handbook

The EMC Workshop Handbook is available for download in English, Spanish, French, Polish.

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