With increasing specialisation in the fields of research, we need cross-disciplinary dialogue to find the social and cultural context for this knowledge. In order to encourage and stimulate debate, the Royal Society of New Zealand has established the annual New Zealand Aronui Lecture Series. Aronui – the knowledge of being human.
The Maya created one of the New World’s most surprising and accomplished civilizations in the tropical forest of Central America and Yucatan. Over a period of 2500 years, ending with the Spanish Conquest in the 16th century, they moved from simple villages of maize farmers to great cities with impressive temples and palaces, adorned with sculptures and paintings praising their divine kings. Inscriptions in Maya hieroglyphics recorded history and the passage of time, precise to the day; the Great Cycle of the Maya calendar will end on December 23rd, 2012. Most of the cities were abandoned, afflicted by overpopulation, warfare and drought, by AD 900, but Maya culture, and the Maya people, have survived into the 21st century.
Norman Hammond is Professor Emeritus of Archaeology at Boston University, Associate in Maya Archaeology at the Peabody Museum, Harvard University and a Senior Fellow at Cambridge University. He was Irvine Chair of Anthropology at the California Academy of Sciences (1984-85) and has been a Visiting Professor at Jilin University (China), the Sorbonne in Paris, and the University of Bonn in Germany, as well as a Fellow at Dumbarton Oaks and a Visiting Fellow at All Souls College, Oxford University.
Professor Hammond’s fieldwork in the Maya has been mainly in Belize, at the sites of Lubaantun, Nohmul, Cuello and La Milpa. He has also done fieldwork in Afghanistan, North Africa, and Ecuador.