News - March 31, 2016

Student gives lecture about Mayas

Linda van der Nat

Biology student Boyan Flier will give a lecture in a WUtalk next week Wednesday about his passion: Maya culture. ‘There is so much to tell, I am afraid that one and a half hour is not enough.’

Photo: Sven Menschel

Nothing in his student room reveals that the Biology student Boyan Flier has a fascination for the classic Maya culture. There is no more than a poster and two self-made pictures. ‘Good replicas are difficult to get and therefore really expensive’, the fifth year student explains.

Since high school Boyan was fascinated by the Maya’s, their old, Amerindian civilization from Central America. A civilization that is famous for the fact that this was the only one to have a fully developed script in the time of the Columbus  explorers. Boyans interest was so strong, that he taught himself this script. ‘A considerable time-consuming and complex task.’

On 6 April he will talk in an evening class in Orion about his passion, in the context of WUtalks, a presentation series where students, staff and alumni get the chance to share their hobby with others. Boyan is the second student that gave a presentation about his passion. Sterrin Smalbrugge preceded him. More than five hundred people attended her reptile lecture mid-February; a difficult number to match. It does not matter to Boyan. ‘Whether five hundred or five people come to my lecture, I think it is already great that I can share this.’


The beauty of the classic Mayan-culture? Boyan does not have to think long about that answer. That these people, with techniques from the stone age, in the middle of the inaccessible jungles of Guatemala, Mexico, Belize and Honduras managed to build cities for hundreds of thousands of people, with impressive pyramids and palaces. That they had a fully developed script and a highly developed art and science. ‘There is so much to tell, I am afraid that one and a half hour is not enough.’

The ironic thing is, as he says himself, that he has not travelled to Central America yet. ‘It is still on my to-do list, but it has not happened yet. I really want to be gone for at least half a year, and leave the beaten track. Of course I will also visit the tourist spots such as Tikal in Guatemala and Chichén Itzá in Mexico, but I prefer to go to more remote places which you can only reach after a jungle journey of two days. Taste the atmosphere, and really see how such a city is built. I want to have all the information that I know from books and science to come to life.’

During his lecture Boyan will talk about the flourishing and collapse period of the classic Mayan culture. ‘The political landscape of the Maya’s was distributed. Every city state had its own king and queen and there was a lot of mutual rivalry. They were constantly engaging in competitive bidding: more art, prettier art, more monumental architecture, more rituals. They eventually went down owing to their own success. War, drought and overexploitation in the rainforest caused people to move from the central lowlands to the highlands and to move to Yucatán. Then a short period of growth came about, but due to the arrival of the Spanish conquistadors these nations were also overthrown.’

Date: Wednesday 6 April 2016

Location: Orion

Time: 20:00 – 22:00 (doors open at 19:30)