Penn Museum Offers a New Look at an Ancient Prophecy in MAYA: 2012 Lords of Time

By Vesko Kostic, for GPA -- Even if you don’t believe in the accuracy of the frequent apocalyptic prophesies that permeate our pop culture, there is still something unnerving about them that can cause people to do strange things in the months leading up to the “event,” whatever it may be. One of the more sane consequences of one such prediction is the opening of the new MAYA 2012: Lords of Time exhibit at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology. This Philadelphia exclusive exhibit runs from May 5th, 2012 to (optimistically) January 13th, 2013.

Among the many authentic artifacts and replicas, the exhibit features many interactive elements that are great for the whole family, and available in both English and Spanish. These interactive features include a Maya Glyph writing segment where visitors can learn the meaning of the ancient symbols and create their own Mayan identic with various glyphs. There is also a Maya Calendar Translation section, which explains the intricate details of the Mayan calendar system. Another interactive touch-table lets visitors explore a virtual model of excavation tunnels and the tombs under the Pyramids at Copan, Honduras.

Along with the exhibit, the Penn Museum has cooked up some authentic Mayan inspired food, available at their Pepper Mill Café (for under $10), with menus that change according to season and day. Those who are adventurous enough to try some of their delicious food will also be entered in a raffle to win Mayan themed prizes, from gold chocolate to Maya cookbooks.

Throughout the exhibit, there are multiple “Ask-An-Expert” Video Kiosks that give visitors pre-recorded messages from Maya experts and Mayan people living today. A more kid-oriented feature is the Role Playing booklets that guide the “explorers” through the exhibit with puzzles and questions about the various artifacts.

These rare artifacts from excavations in Copan include all manner of carvings and items from ancient Mayans, including tools and pottery, and a few books from the Spanish explorers and their notes on the ancient Mayans. Among these artifacts, visitors can find authentic tablets from parts of Mayan calendars, along with tablets showing various glyphs representing ancient leaders.

There are even more modern items from cultures of the Mexico/Central America region, including native garb and “worry dolls,” small dolls made for children to help ease their worries. If you think we might not make it to the end of this year, make sure you check them out; their adorableness may put you at ease.

The exhibit expands from just artifacts to host a series of fun events centered on Mayans. Upcoming planned events include:

  • June 6th, 6:00 PM -- The Maya and 2012: Fact, Fantasy, and Phenomenon with Dr. Simon Martin, Research Specialist and co-curator of Maya: 2012 Lords of Time.
    • Dr. Martin uses hieroglyphic texts, including some that were only recently uncovered, and his knowledge of the ancient Mayans, to further examine all the recent commotion about Mayans and their 2012 predictions.
    • Admission is $10 at the door, $5 for advance registration, and free for Penn members with advance registration.
  • Every Wednesday, June 20th - August 24th, 5:00 - 8:00 PM -- Over the course of the summer, the P.M. @ Penn Museum Summer Nights will feature multiple Latin entertainers, keeping in theme with the new exhibit. Food and drinks are available for purchase.
    • Admission is $5 more than the base admission price, and free for Penn members.

For a full list of planned events, click here.  And for more photos of the Opening Event, visit the Global Philadelphia Association Flickr page!

Photo Credits by Vesko Kostic, for GPA. All Rights Reserved.

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