Maya At The Playa – September 30 – October 3, 2010

My wife Meme and I attended a 4 day (September 30- October 3) symposium called “Maya At The Playa”. Actual venue was the Government Bldg for Flagler County in the town of Bunnell, Florida This is right at 100 miles from where we live (Cape Canaveral), so we were able to commute rather than needing to stay over. About 160 people attended the event.

Every portion of the event ran very smoothly with the possible exception of the lunches. The “lunch package” of $60 for the four days seemed pricy to us so we packed food from home. Others may have felt the same way, as the Director made the Saturday lunch free to all and Sundy buffet a mere $5 if you did not have a ticket.

37 archaeologists and scientists of other disciplines presented Lectures or Workshops. This meant that sometimes more than one were concurrent, so we had to pick the one we felt would be most interesting or even split up and later compare notes.

The major theme of the presentations was the Collapse of the Maya Cites. The presenters analyze this as being more than a single cause. Likewise, we cannot surmise ALL the cities failed at the same time. New evidence is showing the dates to be spread out over several hundred years. One very important factor is the last known date when a stela was carved at each site.

We were enthralled by the paintings of Aurora Heuple on display in the Entrance Hall. These concentrated on the Maya Myths but also displayed everyday work and play, which would be typical of the Mayas of today as well as their prehistoric ancestors.

Of special interest to me, as a Civil Engineer, was a program by Rick Slazyk and Joaquin (Jack) Rodriguez III. Rick discussed several architectural styles, including Puuc, Rio Bec and Chenes, while Jack followed with construction techniques, particularly vaults and arches.

We were thrilled to meet two of the “giants” of the archaeological work of recent generations – Michael Coe and George Stewart. Michael was the featured speaker at the Lifetime Achievement Award Dinner Speaking on “Ankor and Maya: A Tale Of Two Civilizations.”

In conversation, we learned both these men have been on Usamacinta River Trips with none other than Nicholas Hellmuth. As we were talking about that a man standing near said he too has done that expedition. I began to think if I had asked for a show of hands in the auditorium there would have been more similar past travelers!!

As was the case last year, most all of the presenters were young archaeologists who are working in Belize. Several are doing work somewhat different from the usual ceramics and temples. Heather McKillop is investigating how the Mayas extracted salt from seawater in SE Belize. Alan Cobb explored a previously unknown (to the archaeologists) cave in the central region, containing jumbled together human bones at what seem to be random locations. The significance of this is not yet understood. Jim Garber’s recent work has been historical, including excavations in a Belize Cemetery.

This is not to leave out a group that have been working at Waka (El Peru) in recent years. One incredible find there was a horde of ceramic figurines. These are currently at the Kimball Museum in Fort Worth, Texas. We plan to make a trip there very soon to see them.

At this time we do not know the situation with future Maya At The Playas. But we will be watching the schedules and plan to attend any that are scheduled.


mayan myths paintings  maya at the playa
Aurora Heuple explains the Maya Myths to Meme

mayan at the playa
Rick Slazyk, Joaquin (Jack) Rodriguez and Harry confer before their presentation

weaving at maya at the playa
Maya woman with back strap loom exactly like her ancestors

maya at the playa lunch
Lunch each day was an outdoor tasty buffet



First posted February, 2011.

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