1 Ajaw 13 Muwan (January 19, 2019): Juan Jesús Méndez Intzín: Maya Archaeologist

1 Ajaw 13 Muwan. Drawing by Jorge Pérez de Lara

On this most auspicious day, 1 Ajaw, the namesake of the Hero Twin in the Popol Vuh, we welcome the Gregorian New Year, and we look forward to the 5th International Congreso on Ancient Maya Writing to take place in 2020. Working with Omar Chan of Quintana Roo and the Congreso planning committee, we have proposed a tentative date for the next Congreso to take place on this same Tzolk’in day 1 Ajaw, on June 22nd, 2020. This is just two cycles of 260 days in the future, which was a known cycle that Maya astronomers used to predict eclipses. Quite remarkably, there will be a total lunar eclipse tomorrow night, on January 20th, visible in the Maya area and in North America, and there will be a total solar eclipse on the summer solstice in 2020, just one day prior to the proposed Congreso date—though this solar eclipse will only be visible on the other side of the Earth—so we are safe!

Following our announcement that we have funding available for our next round of mini-grants, we now have received twelve applications and we continue to receive more. We will fund as many as our budget allows, and I will announce the recipients in our next blog.

This month, we take a look at a report from last year, but I want to make sure that we do not neglect to publish it. Juan Jesús Méndez Intzín, or Xun as I know him, is an extraordinary person, and one of the advanced students who regularly attends the Congresos. He is a native speaker of Tseltal from Chiapas, and one of a new generation of Maya people who is also an archaeologist, working towards his graduate degree in archaeology. Juan organized and taught an extensive introductory course on Maya writing for Maya students at the Colegio de Bachilleres de Campeche (COBACAM) in Xpujil, Campeche last April, including a visit to the site of  Becan. This area, surrounding the large ancient site of Calakmul, has been one of the most heavily looted regions in the Mundo Maya, and part of Juan’s interest is to help prevent further looting through education, helping Maya people appreciate their rich heritage.

Juan’s groundbreaking work has been made possible by the generous contributions of donors like you. We are eternally grateful for your help, and for the important work Juan is doing, and we wish him well in his future goals. May there be many more native Maya archaeologists that follow in his footsteps.

Wakolowal ta a pisilik,

Michael J. Grofe, President

Recognition of the cultural and epigraphic development of Becán 

Introduction to Maya Hieroglyphic Writing in Xpujil, Calakmul
Juan Jesús Méndez Intzín

This report is the result of the activities carried out as part of the course-workshop called “Introduction to Maya Hieroglyphic Writing” in the facilities of the Colegio de Bachilleres de Campeche (COBACAM), campus # 14 with headquarters in the municipality of Xpujil, Calakmul, Campeche (Mexico) in April 24-26 of 2018. This was organized for community members with no knowledge about the subject. Continue reading