Lectures at Mayborn Museum Explore the Maya Calendar, Maya Religion and Maya Monkey Dance

Aug. 30, 2012

Media Contact: Terry Goodrich, (254) 710-3321

Follow us on Twitter:@BaylorUMediaCom

WACO, Texas (Aug. 30, 2012) -- "It's the End of the World as We Know it and I Feel Fine" - a Thursday, Sept. 6, lecture about the decoding of the Maya 2012 calendar -- will be the first in a short series of lectures at Baylor University's Mayborn Museum Complex in conjunction with the museum exhibit Encounters with the Maya.

Michael Callaghan, Ph.D., an assistant professor in anthropology at Southern Methodist University, will speak at 3 p.m. and 6 p.m. Sept. 6 in the SBC Theater of the museum.

Since the publication of a number of popular archaeology and New Age religious texts in the mid-1960s, the date of Dec. 21, 2012, has become increasingly important in the collective consciousness of the Western world. The significance is said by many to rest on the importance given it by the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica, who allegedly calculated it as the last day of one of their many calendrical systems. Callaghan will discuss how the date fits into the context of the systems and culture, and what -- if anything -- it means for the future.

• A second lecture -- "Maya Religion in the 21st Century" will be given by Garrett Cook, Ph.D., professor of anthropology at Baylor, at 3 p.m. on Thursday, Sept. 13, also in the SBC Theater. Modern Maya religion is a hybrid of Catholicism and ancient Maya beliefs and rituals. Their ancient gods have been replaced with Spanish saints, but the stories of these saints only slightly resemble those of their European counterparts. Cook will discuss how the Maya religious tradition is responding to the 21st Century.

• "The Dance of the Monkeys: A Video Documentary of a Maya Medicine Community" will be presented at 6 p.m. Sept. 13 by Cook in the SBC Theater. The performance of the dance combines a belief that supernatural powers are transmitted from the spirits of the monkey, jaguar and cougar depicted in the dance to the dancers. This acrobatic performance is part of an 18-year commitment to a vow made to ancestors and patron saints. Cook will discuss the practice and show video clips from a performance.

Lectures are free and open to the public, but seating is limited. For more information, call (254) 710-7981. The Mayborn Museum Complex is located at 1300 S. University Parks Drive on Baylor University campus.

ABOUT BAYLOR UNIVERSITY

Baylor University is a private Christian university and a nationally ranked research institution, characterized as having "high research activity" by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching. The university provides a vibrant campus community for approximately 15,000 students by blending interdisciplinary research with an international reputation for educational excellence and a faculty commitment to teaching and scholarship. Chartered in 1845 by the Republic of Texas through the efforts of Baptist pioneers, Baylor is the oldest continually operating university in Texas. Located in Waco, Baylor welcomes students from all 50 states and more than 80 countries to study a broad range of degrees among its 11 nationally recognized academic divisions. Baylor sponsors 19 varsity athletic teams and is a founding member of the Big 12 Conference.

ABOUT MAYBORN MUSEUM COMPLEX

The Mayborn Museum Complex features a natural science and cultural history museum focusing on Central Texas with walk-in dioramas, including one on the Waco Mammoth Site, and exploration stations for geology, paleontology, archaeology and natural history. In addition, 17 themed discovery rooms encourage hands-on learning for all ages.

Looking for more news from Baylor University?