Institute of Archaeology


Maya on the Thames 2020

14 February 2020–16 February 2020, 6:30 pm–5:00 pm

Maya on the Thames 2020 (flyer)

The 7th Annual Maya Workshops, Maya on the Thames, will take place at the UCL Institute of Archaeology from 14-16 February 2020.

Event Information

Open to







Prof Elizabeth Graham


Archaeology Lecture Theatre G6
Institute of Archaeology
31-34 Gordon Square
United Kingdom

The weekend of events will be full of all things Maya: an introductory lecture and two different workshops run for all levels and interests. This year's theme is ‘Rivers of Blood: Wars along the Usumacinta’.

Each workshop will be led by experts in the field of Maya culture and epigraphy and all participants are also invited to attend the introductory lecture given by Harri Kettunen (University of Helsinki) on the Friday evening.


Tickets for the hieroglyphic workshops (two days) are £33 (£22 student). All ticket prices include admission to the introductory lecture on the Friday.

Further details

Maya-on-the-Thames Workshops

 1) Introduction to Maya Writing (Beginner's Hieroglyph Workshop) – Ramzy Barrois & Panos Kratimenos
(10am–6pm Saturday 15th February and 10am–6pm Sunday 16th February 2020)

The information drawn from Maya hieroglyphic texts has fundamentally changed our understanding of ancient Maya culture. The ability to read and contextualise what the Maya themselves wrote about their history and rituals provides a fascinating and unparalleled insight into a past culture whose descendants continue to thrive in the communities of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and Honduras.

The objective of this two-day workshop is to provide an intensive introduction to the study of Maya hieroglyphs. Alongside lectures aimed at introducing participants to the core concepts of Maya epigraphy and giving them a grounding to pursue decipherment independently, participants will also have the opportunity to decipher hieroglyphs on their own and in groups during the workshop, with assistance from the tutors.

No previous knowledge of Maya culture, Maya hieroglyphs, ancient scripts, or linguistics is required. By the end of the workshop, participants will understand the basic structure of Maya texts, be able to decipher calendrical information, reconstruct chronologies, identify verbs and nominal phrases, and much more.

2) River of Blood: Rituals and Rivalry along the Usumacinta – Harri Kettunen, Christophe Helmke, Eva Jobbova & Claudia Zehrt
(10am–6pm Saturday 15th February and 10am–6pm Sunday 16th February 2020, with a visit to the British Museum on Sunday morning)

This workshop focuses on the ceremonial life and political landscape of the Upper Usumacinta during the Late Classic Period (ca. 550–830), concentrating on Yaxchilan and environs. We will take a look at the courtly life as well as the bellicose episodes in the history of the Upper Usumacinta kingdoms, based primarily on epigraphic records and pictorial narratives. During the workshop, participants will mainly examine texts and imagery from the site of Yaxchilan, with occasional references to relevant source materials from other sites in the area. Besides the workshop proper, we will examine the original Yaxchilan monuments during our visit to the British Museum. Basic familiarity with Maya epigraphy and iconography will facilitate participants in following the arguments presented at the workshop. Besides advanced beginners and intermediate-level participants, we also welcome more advanced students. Each participant will receive a printed workbook and are advised to secure a copy (digital or printed) of the latest handbook of Maya Hieroglyphic Writing (16th edition or later of “Introduction to Maya Hieroglyphs”) at: www.wayeb.org/resources-links/wayeb-resources/workshop-handbook.



£22 student rate