4th Cracow Maya Conference 2015, Poland

Into the Underworld

Archaeological and Anthropological Perspectives on the Afterlife in the Pre-Columbian Americas

19 – 22 February, 2015

The conference will concern the most recent research results on religions, politics as well as cultural and social phenomena related to the concepts of death and afterlife of the New World. Although the subject of the conference is relatively poorly examined, it offers a unique opportunity to have insight into the world of symbols, power, knowledge and beliefs of traditional communities. The leading specialists in contemporary American studies from Poland and abroad will take part in the symposium. They will present their results of archaeological and anthropological research in Americas and promote the history and cultural heritage of the mentioned region. Moreover, the symposium will also be an opportunity for integration of the scientific environment, students and individuals interested in this subject. As part of the conference, the institutes will hold workshops on the Maya hieroglyphic writing system.

Thursday (19.02.)

Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences

S?awkowska 17 Street


8.15 – 8.50


8:50 – 9:10

Prof. dr hab. Janusz K. Koz?owski

Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University & Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences

Prof. dr hab. Krzysztof Cia?owicz

Director of the Institute of Archaeology of the Jagiellonian University

Dr hab. Marcin Brocki

Director of the Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology of the Jagiellonian University


Burials, ancestors and the Maya Underworld: archaeological and architectural perspectives

9:10 – 9:40

Norman Hammond (Cambridge University and Boston University)

Mortality and Immortality: Maya Mortuary Practice

9:40 – 10:10

Cristina Vidal (University of Valencia) and Gaspar Muñoz (Polytechnic University of Valencia)

Las arquitecturas ocultas de las Acrópolis de La Blanca y Chilonché

10:10 – 10:30

Coffee break

10:30 – 11:00

Jaros?aw ?ra?ka, Wies?aw Koszkul, and Bogumi? Pilarski (Jagiellonian University)

Burials, offerings, flints and rituals of veneration in Nakum Structure X: the cult of ancestors and a horizon of tombs with lithic deposits in Maya area.

11:00 – 11:30

Jan Szyma?ski (University of Warsaw)

Out of the Underworld: Maize God’s resurrection and its architectural context

11:30 – 13:00

Lunch break


Sacred places, supernatural creatures and death in Maya and Mesoamerican worldview


Alexander Safronov (Moscow State University)

Sacral Places in the Classic Maya Political Landscape


Harri Ketunnen (University of Helsinki)

Cuando el Tecolote Canta: Owls in Mesoamerican Art, Writing, Mythology & Ethnozoology


Agnieszka Hamann (University of Warsaw)

Through the valley of the shadow of death: Death as a typical domain requiring non-literal treatment


Coffee break


Death, mountains and caves among the Highland Maya: Ethnographic perspective


Piotr Grzegorz Michalik (Jagiellonian University)

Who dwells inside the mountain and underneath the ground? A modern Tzotzil point of view


Monika Banach (Jagiellonian University)

Vi’ Vitz y Xe’ Naloj: montañas y cuevas en el paisaje sagrado de los Mayas Ixil


Leif Korsbaek (Mexico’s National School of Anthropology) & Marcela Barrios Luna

The cargo system, death and the graveyard in the highlands of Chiapas


Coffee break


Caves and Underworld places in ancient Mesoamerica


Christophe Helmke (University of Copenhagen) and Ismael Arturo Montero García (Ipan Tepeme Ihuan Oztome)

Caves and New Fire Ceremonies in Central Mexico


Jesper Nielsen (University of Copenhagen)

The Cave and the Butterfly: Death and Rebirth in Ancient Central Mexico


John S. Henderson (Cornell University) and Kathryn M. Hudson (University at Buffalo)

Otherworldly Places: Caves as Bidirectional Portals in Maya Cosmology


Ramzy Barrois (independent scholar)

How the Underworld became Hell in our understanding of the Maya Ballgame

Friday (20.02.)

Polish Academy of Arts and Sciences

S?awkowska 17 Street




Burial customs and Otherworld places in Mesoamerica and other parts of the New World


Kazimiera Miko? and ?ukasz Byrski (Jagellonian University)

The Monument 1 of Chalcatzingo – an enthronement scene or Olmec cave paradise?


Elena Novoselova (Moscow State University)

Ritos fúnebres y poder supremo en la Civilización Andina (en el ejemplo de Wari, Tiwanaku y Tawantinsuyu)


Rados?aw Palonka and Jakub Nawrot (Jagiellonian University)

Burial customs and perspectives on the afterlife in Pueblo culture from the North American Southwest

Friday-Sunday (20-22.02.)

Institute of Ethnology and Cultural Anthropology

Go??bia 9 Street

1. DAY (20.02) | 13:00 – 15:00 and 15:30 – 19:00

2-3. DAY (21-22.02) 9:00 – 12:00 and 13:00 – 18:00

Maya Workshop I (basic):

Sacral Maya Rituals and Ceremonies in Classic Texts and Images

by Alexander Safronov, Ivan Savchenko and Magdalena Rusek

Maya Workshop II:

Underworld Creatures in Maya Art and Writing

by Harri Kettunen and Guido Krempel

Nahua Workshop:

Introducción al estudio de los Códices Borgia, Vaticano B y Cospi

by Katarzyna Mikulska and Ana Guadalupe Díaz (via Skype)


Saturday, (21.02.), 20:00

Granito: How to Nail a Dictator

by Pamela Yates

Introduction letter: Pablo Ceto (Alcaldía Indígena de Nebaj, Ixil University of Guatemala)


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Related Links

About the Organisers

Conference Homepage

Projekt Nakum