Out of the Maya Tombs

About the Show

Thousands of exquisitely painted ancient Maya ceramics have flooded into the world's public and private collections. Their images and texts have revealed details of Maya life, literature, mythology and history. But because most of these vessels came to light by looting, they also raise profound practical and ethical questions. This documentary uses the story of a single Maya vase known as the 'Royal Cup' as a framing device. Following its journey from its ancient life as a royal gift, its burial in a royal grave, its modern discovery and its ultimate exhibition, the film will examine both the wide-ranging strategies by which scholarship has illuminated the meaning of these vessels, and the ethical issues involved in their excavation, collection and study.