Maya at the Playa 2013

A Look at the 2013 Maya at the Playa


by Marta Barber

The Seventh Annual Maya at the Playa Conference took place September 26-29 at its usual spot in the Flagler County government center building. What started as a dream of a high-school teacher with a degree in archaeology has become one of the staples of Maya epigraphers, archaeologists and other scholars to share their findings with colleagues and with the amateur public at large.  

 Maya at the Playa Lifetime Achievement Award Honoreeskerr1

Justin and Barbara Kerr

As in the past, the event honors a scholar whose work in the field has set a standard of excellence. This year’s honorees were Justin and Barbara Kerr. Hardly is there a presentation by any scholar that doesn’t include a photo with a “K” label at the bottom. Justin, with his wife, Barbara, who was unable to attend, and his roll-out camera has made thousands of photographs of the magnificent vases done by the Maya. His collection can be seen in Maya Vase Database, a treasure to everyone in the field. Justin gave a wonderful presentation about several vases, including the famous Princeton Vase. It was a real joy to hear the legendary Kerr talk about his work.


Writing was the dominating theme at this conference. It all started Thursday with an all-day conference on glyphs. Well, it wasn’t exactly on glyphs but on the linguistic origin of glyphs. Most writing during the Classic Period was written on Chol. But with the aid of laptops and programs on several Maya language-Spanish dictionaries used today, attendees were able to figure out how to pronounce those glyphs. Led by Harri Kettunen and Mark Zender, it was a new (at least to this neophyte) approach about glyphs. Among those in the workshop were Stanley Guenter, Nick Hopkins, Mark Van Stone and Ignacio Cases, the techie, who later would present the lecture with the best title: “A Computational Semiotics and Hermeneumatics application to Maya Writing. “

Still on glyphs but not Maya was George Stuart’s presentation on The Discovery and Documentation of La Mojarra Stela 1. We can all be hours listening to George speak of his travails and joys of working on all these now landmark monuments and regaled us with a full original version of La Mojarra’s drawing. Michael Coe canceled at the last minute his invitation to attend, we were all sorry to miss him. Richard Diehl expanded on the theme of early writing, focusing also on La Mojarra and other Veracruz area writings.

A “double-whammy” that was a big success was the tandem presentation of Keith Merwin, our own webmaster, and Francisco Estrada-Belli about the site of Holmul. Keith’s knowledge about the historical background on early Holmul excavations was the perfect introduction to the great discoveries made by Francisco at the site.

Other presenters with strong IMS ties were Traci Ardren, Debra Walker and our own Director of Research, Joaquin Rodriguez.

Jay Frogel, whose ingenious art of superimposing Maya site photographs with Catherwood’s drawings were on display, talked about his project photographing all the sites that Stephens and Catherwood visited and recorded.

Other speakers also created their own buzz: Charles Golden’s adventures along the Usumacinta; Erin Sears’ analysis of ceramic figurines and their place in the reconstruction of Maya livestyles; Ron Bishop’s talk on ceramic production and David Freidel’s continuing excavations at Waka-El Peru were stand-outs.

Mat Saunders, the organizer of Maya at the Playa (and Maya at the Lago) is to be commended for the quality of the conference he puts out yearly.   The Institute of Maya Studies is always thankful for the spot that he gives us every year to let folks know about IMS’ work. More important, though, is being able to catch up with what scholars and experts are doing.


hostgator coupon or play poker on party poker

thumb APMaudslay_001Pioneers in Maya Archaeology

Biographical sketches of men and women who did much of the early defining
work in Maya studies.

Copyright 2012 Maya at the Playa 2013. The Institute of Maya Studies is a 501(c)(3) not-for-profit organization. Your charitable contributions are tax-deductible to the extent permitted by law.
Joomla Templates by Wordpress themes free