THE WORK DONE IN GUATEMALA
EPIGRAPHY FOR THE MAYA PEOPLE
“A people with no history is like a tree with no roots”, says the famous saying (Marcus Garvey). And this is precisely what epigraphy, archaeology and other associated, auxiliary or inter-related sciences mean for the Maya people. I am not necessarily speaking on behalf of the Maya population at large, but I do believe that I do so for many of them. Epigraphy, together with archaeology, ethnology and anthropology are the sciences that have brought us, the Maya peoples, closer to our ancient History, since they are the disciplines that, together with linguistics, are more closely related to our people and they provide a very important link for the communication and transmission of History, which is a fundamental pillar for knowing any society’s past.
There is a point in time where the link between epigraphy (History), archaeology and linguistics is lost and that link is the one that epigraphy has come to confirm and solidify, in order to link the Maya people more with our past; that is not to say that sciences such as archaeology, anthropology, ethnology and others are not important. Each of them has its place and we must acknowledge that epigraphy does not advance as much in the absence of archaeological discoveries or if it remains unlinked with linguistics; therefore, epigraphy without archaeology remains incomplete, while archaeology and other sciences remain incomplete without epigraphy. There is information that can only be confirmed through epigraphy, such as the date of accession or death of a certain ruler, or his date of birth. And there is information that can only be confirmed through archaeology or other auxiliary sciences. Thus, we can say that epigraphy has revolutionized the change from archaeology to History and that History (epigraphy) is the one that, in many aspects, is closer to the vocabulary, the worldview and the ceremonial language, among other things, used in our current modus vivendi as a contemporary Maya people.
I would like to share with our friends from “Friends of the Maya” some of the experiences we have had in our fieldwork, sharing the epigraphic knowledge that we have acquired at the Maya Meetings with people from some Communities. Sponsored and financed by CODISRA and PLFM.
This is the Beginner’s Workshop that we (Antonio Cuxil) gave with Héctor Xol in Guatemala City, in 2009.
This is one of the examples for practicing usage of the syllabary at the Huehuetenango Workshop given by Antonio Cuxil and Héctor Xol in 2009.
This is the Intermediate Level Workshop given at CODISRA in Guatemala City in July 2009.
At the Intermediate Level Workshop in July 2009, we thought that seeing the glyphs in person on the original monuments would bring a new dimension to the learning of epigraphy and we therefore decided to go see several monuments at Guatemala’s Museum for Archaeology and Ethnology and it was a fabulous experience.
Since the Theme of the Advanced Seminar with Doctor Nikolai Grube in 2009 was Teotihuacan and the Maya, I thought it would be good to see and explain the well-known Marcador from Tikal at the Museum for Archaeology in Guatemala; we spoke about Siyaj K’AK’, Atlatl Owl and their history in the Maya world.
In April 2010, we visited Nikolai Grube’s project in Uxul. Lolmay has always said: “I think we should go to the jungle and experience what researchers experience, in order to better understand the difficulties and obstacles they face in the jungle and thus be able to better appreciate the knowledge they bring to our classrooms”.
Equipment transfer and change of vehicle at the Calakmul Biosphere, en route to Uxul; Lolmay is the photographer.
In June 2010, Lolmay organized a cultural trip for the academy of Kakchiquel Mayan Languages, based in Chimaltenango and invited me to be the Group Guide, something to which I agreed immediately, feeling much honored; it was a very interesting experience, since we were also accompanied by a journalist and a cameraman from Maya Television, who were there for the purpose of filming and showing what the trip was like on Maya Television. In this photograph we are talking about: “The meaning and importance of the bajos (depressed part of the land, often prone to flooding) in the Petén and their implication for the apogee and decadence of Maya Civilization during the Classic period”.
Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque during the trip made by the Academy of Maya Languages in June 2010.
After the journey to Palenque, we visited Tikal and this was also filmed for Maya Television, in order to show it on the cultural channel of Maya Television.
Also, Lolmay organized a Maya Epigraphy workshop on July 9 2010 for the Kakchiquel Linguistic community in Chimaltenango, where he invited me to help.
(Translation by Jorge Pérez de Lara)