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The Maya

  • 28 February till 4 September 2016
  • Drents Museum

Rulers of the Rainforest

From 28 February until 4 September 2016 the Drents Museum in the Dutch town of Assen will be focusing on the Maya. The major international archaeological exhibition The Maya - Rulers of the Rainforest will be an exploration of the fascinating Mayan culture and a treasure trove of magnificent Mayan objects. The exhibited treasures, mostly from the period from AD 200 until 900, will provide an impression of this intriguing high civilisation. Many of the objects that will be travelling to Assen from Mesoamerica have never been on show in Europe before.

How were the Mayan people able to survive in their large cities in the middle of the inhospitable, dangerous rainforest? That’s the key question of this exhibition, which will cover all layers of Mayan society, from the mighty Mayan kings surrounded by all their splendour to the peasants without whom the large monumental cities could never have evolved. Maize was of vital importance to the Maya and played a crucial role in their development.

With the recurring theme of the maize cycle - sowing, growing, harvest and rebirth - the exhibition will focus on various aspects of Mayan culture: life at the king’s palace, the Maya’s calendars and extensive knowledge of the universe, their beautiful sculptures telling historical tales and the mysterious world of their gods.

Jaguar warrior and jade mask
The Maya will present a unique mixture of objects: beautiful jade and shell ornaments, remarkably detailed limestone carvings, polychrome pottery and stelae covered with hieroglyphs. Absolute highlights will be an enormous sculpture of a prowling Mayan warrior wearing a jaguar mask and a jade mask that was used to decorate a belt or a headdress. Jade ranked among the Maya's most valuable goods.

International cooperation
The Drents Museum works closely together with the Historisches Museum der Pfalz in Speyer (Germany), which will be hosting the exhibition after it has been on show in Assen, and with the German professor Nikolai Grube, a leading international expert on Mayan culture and the Mayan hieroglyphic script. It is thanks to this close cooperation that the organisers have been able to include the latest insights in the field of Mayan archaeology in the exhibition. Most of the exhibits on loan come from Guatemala, from the Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología and the Fundación La Ruta Maya (both in Guatemala City). The exhibition will also feature various objects from the Ethnologisches Museum (Berlin), the Rautenstrauch-Joest-Museum (Cologne) and other museums.

Archaeological exhibitions
The exhibition The Maya - Rulers of the Rainforest is the latest in a series of international archaeological exhibitions with which the Drents Museum aims to distinguish itself. The museum has in the past presented several successful archaeological exhibitions, among which were The Terracotta Army of Xi’an (2008), Gold from Georgia (2010), The Dead Sea Scrolls  (2013) and Mummies (2014). Marcel Wouters is responsible for designing the exhibition. He also designed the exhibitons The Terracotta Army and Gold from Georgia

WBOOKS will be publishing a book under the same name to accompany the exhibition. The book, which will cost € 24.95, will be on sale at the Museum Shop.

Maya's - Heersers van het Regenwoud