Meeting Summary: The ancient Maya, like many of their descendants today, believed that time did not just pass; it performed as a mindful presence. That presence could take a form, as the sun, as the feathered serpent who exemplified the solar year cycle, as the drought, or war, that periodically attacked the social order, as the moon, originator of creation, who could bring the rains and alleviate distress. For everyone time performed as the ancestors that they remembered and that they became. Time passage while it can be observed and measured in natural phenomena is a culturally defined and naturalized one. Understanding how and why an enduring cultural tradition like the Maya world illuminates time as it does is a key to knowing how, and why, the people of that tradition succeed or fail in adapting to the conditions they help to create.
The Maya Working Group proposes one final meeting at SFI on this subject to thematically integrate the diverse and innovative essays on the materialization of time that the participants have produced for the first two sessions. The goal of this meeting is to ensure that the second edited book from the Maya Working Group is as cohesive as possible. The first book, on E Groups, will be published before this session, and its cohesion is founded significantly in the common focus on solar commemorative civic-religious architecture. The materialization of time registers pervasively in Maya thought, practice, and material culture in ways that we argue integrated the many Maya societies into a shared and enduring world view. Contrary to popular notions of the Maya as having a millenarian world view, their cyclical perspectives of time encouraged resilience in the face of adversity and continuity in the context of change. Understanding how and why an enduring cultural tradition like the Maya world illuminates time as it does is a key to knowing how, and why, the people of that tradition succeeded or failed in adapting to the conditions they help to create.