Exploring Recent Discoveries that have Changed our Understanding of Maya Culture


The new millennium has brought many exciting discoveries to light in northern Guatemala that have significantly altered our understanding of the Maya. The size and sophistication of El Mirador, at its height during 300-150 BC, make it one of the largest and earliest of the Maya cities; mural paintings at San Bartolo, carbon dated to 100 BC, make them the oldest known Mayan paintings; and La Corona is now proven to be the long-sought “Site Q,” solving one of the great mysteries of Mayan archaeology. Our symposium is a wonderful opportunity to discuss these finds in the company of distinguished experts who will greatly enhance our understanding of this remarkable civilization, whose secrets are still being revealed.

The Guest Speakers

Dr. Richard D. Hansen, an archaeologist specializing in the early Maya, is Director of the Mirador Basin Project and Adjunct Professor of Anthropology at the University of Utah. He has written extensively on his work and been featured in many documentaries on the Maya.

Dr. Marcello Canuto is Director of Tulane University’s Middle American Research Institute and an Associate Professor of Anthropology. He is co-director of the La Corona Regional Archaeological Project, a multi-disciplinary study of the heart of lowland Maya civilization. He has received a series of grants from the National Geographic Society to continue his research at La Corona.

Dr. Simon Martin, a British epigrapher, is known for his epigraphic study of Maya dynastic and political history, recounted in his important book, Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering The Dynasties of the Ancient Maya. He is a senior research specialist in Maya epigraphy at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology, working with the Calakmul Epigraphic Research Project.

Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli directs a multi-disciplinary archaeological project at Holmul, Guatemala, and teaches archaeology and geographic information systems at Tulane University. A National Geographic Explorer, he is the author of  The First Maya Civilization: Ritual and Power Before the Classic Period, on the origins of Maya civilization.

Dr. Tomás Barrientos has conducted archaeological research throughout Guatemala for the last 25 years. He is the Chair of the Department of Archaeology at the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala and co-director of the La Corona Regional Project. He has also worked at the Maya site of Cancuen, and completed his PhD at Vanderbilt University.

Itinerary at a Glance

The Symposium

The symposium will feature a series of presentations, site excursions, and festive meals—including a New Year’s Eve party. Our distinguished guest speakers will provide an insider’s view of their discoveries in their talks, and you will have an opportunity to get to know them and speak with them informally during the excursions and other program activities. Although we are unable to visit the sites themselves due to their very remote locations, we will enjoy special access to the El Mirador, La Corona, and Holmul laboratories in Antigua and Guatemala City, where artifacts from the sites are stored and studied. Our excursions bring us to the ceremonial center of Yaxhá and we take a full day to explore incomparable Tikal. The symposium is a wonderful opportunity to discuss recent, remarkable finds in the company of esteemed experts who will greatly enhance our understanding of this remarkable civilization, whose secrets are still being revealed.

Post-Symposium Tours

Classic Kingdoms of the Maya with Dr. Simon Martin
Highlights: Caracol, Dzibanche, Kohunlich, Calakmul, Palenque

The Artistry of the Ancient Maya with Dr. Francisco Estrada-Belli
Highlights: Tikal, Holmul, Quiriguá, Copán, Kaminaljuyú

Splendors of Mayan Mexico with Dr. Richard Hansen
Highlights: Yaxchilán, Bonampak, Palenque, Uxmal, Chichén Itzá

Hidden Treasures of Mayan Guatemala with Dr. Marcello Canuto
Highlights: Ceibal, Aguateca, Cancuén, Mixco Viejo, Iximché




Five of the world’s top Mayanists sharing their expertise through presentations and informally throughout the symposium
Four-day symposium exploring recent discoveries in northern Guatemala that have changed our understanding of Maya culture
Excursions to site laboratories in Antigua and Guatemala City, and to Tikal and Yaxha, with our Guest Speakers
Choice of four post-symposium Maya tours, each accompanied by one of our Guest Experts


Length: 12 days
Cost From: $5495  
Arrive: Guatemala City
Depart: Depends on Post-Symposium Tour
Lodging: 11 nights hotels and lodges
Meals: All meals included (B=Breakfast, L=Lunch, D=Dinner)
Activity: Archaeology, Cultural Adventures
Trip Level:

Cultural exploration and walking tours

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Unlocking the Secrets to the Maya

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Unlocking the Secrets to the Maya