Mayan Writing ~ Codices. Maya

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    Mayan Writing

    The Mayans evolved the only true written system native to the Americas and were masters of mathematics. Mayan writing - written system of Maya.

    Mayan legacy in stone has survived in spectacular fashion at places like Palenque, Tikal, Tulum, Chichen Iyza, Copin, and Uxmal.

    The Maya developed a highly complex system of writing, using pictographs and phonetic or syllabic elements. Mayan writing was highly sophisticated. Most likely only members of the higher classes were able to read their symbols.

    Maya writing was composed of recorded inscriptions on stone and wood and used within architecture. Folding tree books were made from fig tree bark and placed in royal tombs. Unfortunately, many of these books did not survive the humidity of the tropics or the invasion of the Spanish, who regarded the symbolic writing (Mayan Writing) as the work of the devil.

    The Maya also carved these symbols into stone, but the most common place for mayan writing was probably the highly perishable books they made from bark paper, coated with lime to make a fresh white surface.

    These 'books' were screen-folded and bound with wood and deer hide.

    They are called codices, codex is singular.

    Because of their perishable nature and zealous Spanish book burning, only four codices remain today.

    The Dresden Codex
    The Madrid Codex
    The Paris Codex
    The Grolier Codex

    The contents of the codices must have varied, but some of them were evidently similar to astronomic almanacs. We have examples of a Venus table, eclipse tables in a codex in Dresden. There is a codex in Paris that seems to contain some kind of Maya Zodiac, but if it is and how it must have worked are still unknown.

    Another major example of Maya almanacs or Maya writings are present in the Madrid Codex. The fourth codex is called the Grolier and was authenticated as late as 1983. These codices probably contained much of the information used by priests or the noble class to determine dates of importance or seasonal interest. We can only speculate as to whether or not the Maya developed poetry or drama that was committed to paper. The codices probably kept track of dynastic information as well.

    They had a voluminous literature, covering the whole range of native interests either written, in their own peculiar "calculiform" hieroglyphic characters, in books of maguey paper or parchment which were bound in word, or carved upon the walls of their public buildings.

    Twenty-seven parchment books were publicly destroyed by Bishop Landa at Mani in 1562, others elsewhere in the peninsula, others again at the storming of the Itz capital in 1697, and almost all that have come down to us are four codices, as they are called, viz., the "Codex Troano", published at Paris in 1869; another codex apparently connected with the first published at Paris in 1882; the "Codex Peresianus", published at Paris in 1869-71; and the "Dresden Codex", originally mistakenly published as an Aztec book in Kingsborough's great work on the "Antiquities of Mexico" (London, 1830-48).

    Besides these pre-Spanish writings, of which there is yet no adequate interpretation, we have a number of later works written in the native language by Christianized Maya, shortly after the conquest.

    Several of these have been brought together by Brinton in his "Maya Chronicles". The intricate calendar system of the Maya, which exceeded in elaboration that of the Aztec, Zapotec, or any other of the cultured native races, has been the subject of much discussion.

    It was based on a series of katuns, or cycles, consisting of 20 (or 24), 52, and 260 years, and by its means they carried their history down for possibly thirteen centuries, the completion of each lesser katun being noted by the insertion of a memorial stone in the wall of the great temple at Mayapan.

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    boogie soogie, 14/01:
    on a scale 1-10, i would give you a 4.567890321

    keith, 10/11:
    I am also doing a report on the mayans for my class at CHS (cedartown high school). what I dont get is why the mayans went from peaceful to warlike people i would like 2 know why that is so. this would be greatly appriciated if someone could tell me.

    smiles, 27/05:
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    Grace, 22/01:
    this was very helpful and interesting

    BOB, 12/12:
    This website is good but does not have an abundance of info. There are numerous websites with more info.

    jahnelle , 20/11:
    I think that this web-site was very helpful for my projects.

    Timo Beil, 16/08:
    I want to write this language . can you help ? than you timo . please help . my mail is : fernesland (at) mails dot at (AT at the end for austria) . I want to write this language . can you help ? than you timo

    rhs, 04/06:
    This site has very little info. not very helpful.

    renisse, 03/05:
    i think that educating people of our great mayan history is good. but, everyone knows that BELIZE has the richest mayan history.

    reena, 22/02:
    Pictures of what the codices looked like would have been nice. Otherwise, very informative.

    Jakhalia, 22/01:
    this really didn`t help me as much as i needed it just needs a little bit more explanations but it helped me a little

    lana823, 08/01:
    this pge helped alot with my project. :)

    squatoe, 20/10:
    ancient - modern - advanced ~ communications are the only source.

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    Me, 12/04:
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    indel, 10/04:
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    anyone, 24/03:
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    2cool4school, 08/02:
    i am actually doing my home work! It is amazing! I like, never do my home work! thnx 4 helping me actually do work! I like, might get a passing grade on my maya report! YEAH!

    Uche, 08/01:
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    anoynoumus, 22/11:
    cool web site & needs more info on it for a better understanding of what happened jks! great

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    David, 02/07:
    Only about 60% of the Mayan language has been deciphered so im afraid that you wont find any such dictionary in existence.

    Via, 20/05:
    omg... thank you so much! i have a mini term paper coming up and this really helped a lot. If i didn't do this term paper id be in MEGA trouble! thnx. this is the exact research i needed.

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    aimee14, 28/04:
    THIS SITE ROCKS!!!!!! i found loads of info for research paper thanx

    Amy, 19/04:
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    lian, 06/04:
    great site i have gone on it before but never got the chance to write how i fell about it. It definatly took alot of research.

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    Frustrated Student, 15/11:
    I am looking for a way to write and read the Mayan language for a class project but only one site has something I could use but it won't help. All it tells me is how to write your name! I would like a site that gives me a heiroglyphic for each letter. Any suggestions?

    bella, 21/08:
    I am writing a fictional novel that takes place in Mexico. I am trying to piece together a fictional message discovered in a fictional cave and I want the message to be put together in Mayan glyphs...out of deep respect for the culture and its wisdom and history I would like to have it as accurate as possible. Is there anyone that can aid me through email in this endeavor? Any help is greatly appreciated. Thank you

    Emma cooke, 06/06:
    you spelled cichen iyza wrong. it is spelled Chichen Itza it a fact i study the mayans

    Norman C. Berns, 01/02:
    Not even a very common misconception, you're just plain wrong that the Mayans “evolved the only true written system native to the Americas.” The Mayans were, as far as we know, the first to do it. But Sequoia also invented a writing system for the Cherokee about 1820. His fame was so great he was given a lifetime annuity by the US Government. And we named the worlds largest tree after him. Then, of course, we tried to wipe his tribe, but that's another story.

    Carla, 01/12:
    you are verty helpful Tank you bery much

    Cierra, 01/12:
    I wanted to thank you all you helped me get a B on myu report in history on the Mayans and the different backgrounds of it. Love Cierra a.k.a Lady Ce

    Mayan art
    Mayan Gods
    Mayan Astronomy
    Mayan Writing ~ Codices
    Mayan calendar and prophecies
    Mayan Pyramids of Chichen Itza

    Inca Prophecies
    Tiahuanaco and the Deluge