National Geographic Events

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In Search of the Ancient Maya

  • Date
    December 3, 2012
  • Time 7:00 p.m.
  • Location Chicago, IL
  • Price Single-event tickets start at $26 (members) and $29 (general public).

Past Event

Photo: Maya mural, Xultun
The recently discovered Maya mural at Xultun

Photograph by Tyrone Turner

Photo: William Saturno

William Saturno

Photograph by Jaime Saturno

“There the paintings remained, hidden in the Guatemalan jungle, for more than 2,000 years before those divine faces again met human eyes. I was the fortunate one to uncover the mural…” — William Saturno

Since the 1840s, when explorers John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood first revealed to the outside world the wealth of Maya ruins to be found in the jungles of Central America, we have been wrestling with the same questions: Who built these cities? Who ruled over them? How did they fall into ruin?

Recently, these questions have taken on added urgency in the public mind with the popularizing of a “Maya prophecy” that the world will end in 2012.

For more than a decade, archaeologist William Saturno has searched for clues to the mysteries of the Classic Maya, carrying out excavations in Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, and Honduras. During this time he has made some of the most important Maya discoveries to date, including the spectacular murals of San Bartolo, and—in the sprawling complex of Xultun—a house whose walls are covered with glyphs that appear to represent calculations of the various cycles of the Maya calendar. These calculations show that, contrary to popular thought, the Maya believed the world would continue well past 2012. A report on this illuminating new discovery appeared in the June 2012 issue of National Geographic.

Join Saturno for a lively overview of archaeology’s two-century-long quest for answers about this enigmatic Mesoamerican people, illustrated with colorful imagery and irresistible tales of royal intrigue, backstabbing, and war. The sparks will fly as William Saturno brings to life the events that determined the fate of kingdoms, and how they affect us today.

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