Ever wonder how the ancient Mayans were able to predict the cycles of the sun, moon, stars and planets with near precision?

Dr. Gabrielle Vail, a specialist on Mayan glyphs and codices, will give a lecture, “Venus Warriors and Feathered Serpents: The Celestial World of the Prehispanic Maya,” at 7 p.m Friday, Sept. 17, in the O’Shaughnessy Educational Center auditorium on the University of St. Thomas’ St. Paul campus.

One folio, or sheet, of the Maya Codices

One folio, or sheet, of the Maya Codices.

Her talk is part of the University of St. Thomas Art History Department’s four-part “Narrative and History of Art” series, also sponsored by the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of St. Thomas and the Maya Society of Minnesota.

Harvard scholar and keynote speaker for the Art History Department’s upcoming “Word and Image” symposium, Dr. Eugene Wang will deliver the second lecture of the series Nov. 4, with two more speakers to be announced this spring.

Vail specializes in the Maya Codices, or screenfold books, painted by Mayan scribes before the Spanish conquest in the early 16th century. The codices hold information about Mayan beliefs and rituals as well as activities associated with daily life, which are framed within an astronomical and calendrical context.

Vail is a research scholar the New College of Florida and co-director of the Maya Hieroglyphic Database Project.

This event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow the lecture.

Vail also will present a workshop, “Deciphering the Maya Codices: Deities, Rituals and Sacred Time,” at Hamline University from 9 a.m. to noon Saturday, Sept. 18.

For more information, contact the Art History Department at the University of St. Thomas, (651) 962-5560.