AVON PARK, Fla.–Feb. 9, 2016–The ancient Maya civilization will be the topic of the next Kissimmee Valley Archaeological and Historical Conservancy lecture at South Florida State College.


Gabriella Vail

Gabriella Vail, an anthropologist whose research delves into the culture and hieroglyphics of the Maya, will speak Feb. 18, 7 p.m., in Building G, Room 101, on SFSC’s Highlands Campus. The public is invited at no cost.

Vail will guide the audience through a review of research that provides evidence about the role of fire in rituals among the Maya, its transformative powers among the people, and the mythic narratives that underlie their beliefs. The Maya inhabited land in present day southern Mexico, Guatemala, and Honduras from 2000 B.C. until their conquest by the Spanish in the late 1600s.

Vail earned her doctorate in anthropology at Tulane University, where she studied Maya civilization. Her research centers on pre-Hispanic Maya ritual and religion, as well as calendrical and astronomical texts. The Maya developed and intricate system of hieroglyphic writing unmatched among peoples who inhabited the Americas before European contact.

Vail holds several teaching and research posts at academic institutions, including New College in Sarasota and the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida in Gainesville. Vail is a consultant for the California-based Maya Hieroglyphic Database Project and a research partner with Maya specialists at the University of Bonn in Germany.

The talk is one of a series at SFSC sponsored by the Kissimmee Valley Archaeological and Historical Conservancy. For more information, call Anne Reynolds at 840-3995.