An Ancient Mayan Copernicus: Hieroglyphic Texts Reveal Mayans Made Major Discovery in Math, Astronomy

An Ancient Mayan Copernicus: Hieroglyphic Texts Reveal Mayans Made Major Discovery in Math, Astronomy

For more than 120 years the Venus Table of the Dresden Codex -- an ancient Mayan book containing astronomical data -- has been of great interest to scholars around the world. The accuracy of its observations, especially the calculation of a kind of 'leap year' in the Mayan Calendar, was deemed an impressive curiosity used primarily for astrology.

But UC Santa Barbara's Gerardo Aldana, a professor of anthropology and of Chicana and Chicano studies, believes the Venus Table has been misunderstood and vastly underappreciated. In a new journal article, Aldana makes the case that the Venus Table represents a remarkable innovation in mathematics and astronomy -- and a distinctly Mayan accomplishment. "That's why I'm calling it 'discovering discovery,' " he explained, "because it's not just their discovery, it's all the blinders that we have, that we've constructed and put in place that prevent us from seeing that this was their own actual scientific discovery made by Mayan people at a Mayan city."

Six sheets of the Dresden Codex (pp. 55-59, 74) depicting eclipses, multiplication tables and the flood

Multitasking science

Aldana's paper, "Discovering Discovery: Chich'en Itza, the Dresden Codex Venus Table and 10th Century Mayan Astronomical Innovation," in the Journal of Astronomy in Culture , blends the study of Mayan hieroglyphics (epigraphy), archaeology and astronomy to present a new interpretation of the Venus Table, which tracks the observable phases of the second planet from the Sun. Using this multidisciplinary approach, he said, a new reading of the table demonstrates that the mathematical correction of their "Venus calendar" -- a sophisticated innovation -- was likely developed at the city of Chich'en Itza during the Terminal Classic period (AD 800-1000). What's more, the calculations may have been done under the patronage of K'ak' U Pakal K'awiil, one of the city's most prominent historical figures.

"This is the part that I find to be most rewarding, that when we get in here, we're looking at the work of an individual Mayan, and we could call him or her a scientist, an astronomer," Aldana said. "This person, who's witnessing events at this one city during this very specific period of time, created, through their own creativity, this mathematical innovation."

It is believed the Venus calendar was developed at Chich’en Itza, pictured

The Venus Table

Scholars have long known that the Preface to the Venus Table, Page 24 of the Dresden Codex, contained what Aldana called a "mathematical subtlety" in its hieroglyphic text. They even knew what it was for: to serve as a correction for Venus's irregular cycle, which is 583.92 days. "So that means if you do anything on a calendar that's based on days as a basic unit, there is going to be an error that accrues," Aldana explained. It's the same principle used for Leap Years in the Gregorian calendar. Scholars figured out the math for the Venus Table's leap in the 1930s, Aldana said, "but the question is, what does it mean? Did they discover it way back in the 1st century BC? Did they discover it in the 16th? When did they discover it and what did it mean to them? And that's where I come in."

Unraveling the mystery demanded Aldana employ a unique set of skills. The first involved epigraphy, and it led to an important development: In poring over the Table's hieroglyphics, he came to realize that a key verb, k'al, had a different meaning than traditionally interpreted. Used throughout the Table, k'al means "to enclose" and, in Aldana's reading, had a historical and cosmological purpose.

Rethinking assumptions

That breakthrough led him to question the assumptions of what the Mayan scribe who authored the text was doing in the Table. Archaeologists and other scholars could see its observations of Venus were accurate, but insisted it was based in numerology. "They [the Maya] knew it was wrong, but the numerology was more important. And that's what scholars have been saying for the last 70 years," Aldana said.

"So what I'm saying is, let's step back and make a different assumption," he continued. "Let's assume that they had historical records and they were keeping historical records of astronomical events and they were consulting them in the future -- exactly what the Greeks did and the Egyptians and everybody else. That's what they did. They kept these over a long period of time and then they found patterns within them. The history of Western astronomy is based entirely on this premise."

To test his new assumption, Aldana turned to another Mayan archaeological site, Copán in Honduras. The former city-state has its own record of Venus, which matched as a historical record the observations in the Dresden Codex. "Now we're just saying, let's take these as historical records rather than numerology," he said. "And when you do that, when you see it as historical record, it changes the interpretation."

Archaeologists turned to the archaeological site of Copan in Honduras, pictured, for clues

Putting the pieces together

The final piece of the puzzle was what Aldana, whose undergraduate degree was in mechanical engineering, calls "the machinery," or how the pieces fit together. Scholars know the Mayans had accurate observations of Venus, and Aldana could see that they were historical, not numerological. The question was, Why? One hint lay more than 500 years in the future: Nicolaus Copernicus.

The great Polish astronomer stumbled into the heliocentric universe while trying to figure out the predictions for future dates of Easter, a challenging feat that requires good mathematical models. That's what Aldana saw in the Venus Table. "They're using Venus not just to strictly chart when it was going to appear, but they were using it for their ritual cycles," he explained. "They had ritual activities when the whole city would come together and they would do certain events based on the observation of Venus. And that has to have a degree of accuracy, but it doesn't have to have overwhelming accuracy. When you change that perspective of, 'What are you putting these cycles together for?' that's the third component."

Putting those pieces together, Aldana found there was a unique period of time during the occupation of Chichen'Itza when an ancient astronomer in the temple that was used to observe Venus would have seen the progressions of the planet and discovered it was a viable way to correct the calendar and to set their ritual events.

"If you say it's just numerology that this date corresponds to; it's not based on anything you can see. And if you say, 'We're just going to manipulate them [the corrections written] until they give us the most accurate trajectory,' you're not confining that whole thing in any historical time," he said. "If, on the other hand, you say, 'This is based on a historical record,' that's going to nail down the range of possibilities. And if you say that they were correcting it for a certain kind of purpose, then all of a sudden you have a very small window of when this discovery could have occurred."

A page from the Dresden Codex

A Mayan achievement

By reinterpreting the work, Aldana said it puts the Venus Table into cultural context. It was an achievement of Mayan science, and not a numerological oddity. We might never know exactly who made that discovery, he noted, but recasting it as a historical work of science returns it to the Mayans.

"I don't have a name for this person, but I have a name for the person who is probably one of the authority figures at the time," Aldana said. "It's the kind of thing where you know who the pope was, but you don't know Copernicus's name. You know the pope was giving him this charge, but the person who did it? You don't know his or her name."


NameExoWorlds: A contest to name exoplanets and their host stars

For the first time, in response to the public's increased interest in being part of discoveries in astronomy, the International Astronomical Union (IAU) is organizing a worldwide contest to give popular names to selected exoplanets along with their host stars. The proposed names will be submitted by astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations interested in astronomy, and votes will be cast by the public from across the world through the web platform NameExoWorlds. This platform is under development by the IAU in association with Zooniverse. The intention is that millions of people worldwide will be able to take part in the vote. Once the votes are counted, the winning names will be officially sanctioned by the IAU, allowing them to be used freely in parallel with the existing scientific nomenclature, with due credit to the clubs or organizations that proposed them.

People have been naming celestial objects for millennia, long before any scientific system of names ever existed. Even today, almost every civilisation and culture uses common names to describe the stars and planets visible to the naked eye, as well as their apparent distribution on the sky -- constellations, asterisms, etc.

When the IAU was created in 1919, professional astronomers delegated the task of giving official scientific names to newly discovered celestial objects to it. In parallel, throughout its history, the IAU has supported the contribution of the general public in naming various Solar System objects, as outlined in previous announcements.

On 14 August 2013, the IAU issued a statement on the Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites which outlined a first set of rules that allowed the public to become involved in naming exoplanets. Capitalizing on the unique expertise of its members, the IAU through its Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites Working Group has now developed a project in partnership with Zooniverse -- home to the internet's largest, most popular and most successful citizen science projects [1].

The NameExoWorlds contest aims at crowdsourcing the process by which public names will be given to a large sample of well-studied, confirmed exoplanets and their host stars, referred to as ExoWorlds. The NameExoWorlds vote is conceived as a global, cross-cultural, educational, and above all ambitious and challenging contest, both for the IAU-Zooniverse partnership, and for the public. The main steps of the contest are the following [2]:

1. A list of 305 well-characterized exoplanets, discovered prior to 31 December 2008 [3], has been selected for naming by the IAU Exoplanets for the Public Working Group and is being published today on the www.NameExoWorlds.org website. These exoplanets belong to 260 exoplanetary systems comprising one to five members, in addition to their host star.

2. In parallel, an IAU Directory for World Astronomy website is being prepared. This site will open in September 2014 and astronomy clubs and non-profit organisations interested in naming these exoplanets will be invited to register. The IAU will have the capability to handle the registration of thousands of such groups.

3. In October 2014, these clubs or organizations will be asked to vote for the 20-30 exoworlds they wish to name out of the list provided by the IAU. The actual number will depend on how many groups have registered.

4. From December 2014, these clubs or organizations will be able to send in proposals for the names of members and host stars of these selected ExoWorlds, based on the rules in the IAU Exoplanet Naming Theme, together with a detailed supporting argument for their choice. Each group will be allowed to name only one exoworld. More details on this stage will be given later.

From March 2015, the general public will be able to vote to rank the proposed exoworld names. The IAU and Zooniverse will be ready to handle a million votes or more worldwide.

Starting from July 2015, the IAU, via its Public Naming of Planets and Planetary Satellites Working Group, will oversee the final stages of the contest, and will validate the winning names from the vote. The results will be announced at a special public ceremony held during the IAU XXIX General Assembly in Honolulu, USA, 3-14 August 2015.

The naming process will take place on www.NameExoWorlds.org website, where we encourage volunteers to translate the content into different languages in order to offer everyone the opportunity to take part in the contest. The winning names will not replace the scientific designations, which already exist for all exoplanets and their host stars, but they will be sanctioned by the IAU as their adopted names, and be publicized as such, along with due credit to the astronomy clubs or organisations that proposed them. These public names may then be used freely worldwide, along with, or instead of, the original scientific designation. It is expected that the winning names for the 20-30 systems will reflect the diversity of cultures on all continents.

The IAU is excited that the general public will be able to participate in this new and ambitious global challenge. Other contests may be organized after 2015. In the meantime, stay tuned for announcements about the next steps towards the first NameExoWorlds contest.

[1] Zooniverse is a citizen science web portal owned and operated by the Citizen Science Alliance. The organization grew from the original Galaxy Zoo project and now hosts dozens of projects which allow volunteers to participate in scientific research.

[2] Read more about the process in detail on the NameExoWorlds (http://www.nameexoworlds.org/) website.

[3] The date refers to the date of submission to a refereed journal. Many exoplanets discovered after this date require confirmation or are incompletely characterized.


Astronomer Champions The Study Of Solar Eclipses In The Modern Era

Championing the modern-day use of solar eclipses to solve a set of modern problems is the goal of a review article written by Jay Pasachoff, visiting associate at the California Institute of Technology (Caltech) and Field Memorial Professor of Astronomy at Williams College. The review is the cover story of the June 11 issue of Nature, as part of its coverage of the International Year of Astronomy.

Pasachoff's review article describes the history of eclipse discoveries, as well as current themes in eclipse research. "In the article, I try to show how there is still a vital role for eclipses in the range of observations we want to make of the sun," he says.

While space-based telescopes provide "wonderful" data for astronomers to examine, there are still observations that are "inaccessible from space," Pasachoff points out. "[I]t appears that for decades ground-based capabilities will still allow unique observations to be made from Earth rather than from space," he writes in his review.

Indeed, viewing an eclipse from the ground provides "the flexibility to use the latest equipment and to take advantage of new theoretical ideas to frame observations," he notes.

Despite the novelty of these approaches, Pasachoff says, "Many people still have an old-fashioned view of eclipses going back to the discovery of helium or the use of the eclipse 90 years ago this month for verifying Einstein's general theory of relativity. But those are old problems. These days there are a whole series of new questions and new methods that we can apply at eclipses."

Scientists will get their chance to ask those questions and use those methods next month, Pasachoff says, during what will be the longest solar eclipse in the 21st century. The upcoming total eclipse&mdashwhich will be visible in China and India on July 22 for almost six minutes, "an unusually long time for a totality"&mdashwill allow Pasachoff's team, as well as many other teams of scientists, to make important observations that are expected to advance our understanding of the solar atmosphere.

Pasachoff will view the eclipse&mdashhis 49th such event&mdashfrom a 3,000-foot-high mountain in Tianhuangping, China, along with a group of colleagues and students from Williams College. There, he will gather data to continue his research into the heating of the solar corona, which has a temperature of millions of degrees. "We'll be looking for waves in the corona," he says, "for vibrations in the corona that are a sign of these particular waves in the magnetic field that are heating the corona."

The study of eclipses, Pasachoff says, has been enhanced by advances in computer imaging that make it possible to "bring out" low-contrast features. Just such an image&mdashcomputer-processed by Pasachoff's colleague, Miloslav Druckmüller of the Brno University in the Czech Republic&mdashwas chosen by Nature for the cover of the issue containing Pasachoff's review article.

For these and many other reasons, Pasachoff says, the ground-based study of solar eclipses will continue to provide insights and observations of the sun that would otherwise be unobtainable. As he notes in his Nature review article, "At present the paired science and beauty of solar eclipses remain uniquely available to scientists and others in the path of totality."

Pasachoff's expedition to China will be supported by the National Geographic Society. His eclipse research has been supported by the Committee for Research and Exploration of the National Geographic Society, the National Science Foundation, NASA, and Williams College. NASA's Planetary Sciences Division has also provided the electronic cameras that Pasachoff's team uses both in his eclipse studies and in his studies of Pluto and other outer-solar-system objects, in which he has collaborated with Mike Brown, Caltech's Richard and Barbara Rosenberg Professor and professor of planetary astronomy.

Story Source:

Materials provided by California Institute of Technology. Note: Content may be edited for style and length.


Sun God Kinich Ahau

The sun was of utmost importance to the ancient Maya. The Mayan sun god was Kinich Ahau. He was one of the more powerful gods of the Mayan pantheon, considered an aspect of Itzamna, one of the Mayan creator gods. Kinich Ahau would shine in the sky all day before transforming himself into a jaguar at night to pass through Xibalba, the Mayan underworld. In a story in the Quiche Maya council book called the Popol Vuh, the hero twins Hunaphu and Xbalanque transform themselves into the sun and the moon.

Some Mayan dynasties claimed to be descended from the sun. The Maya were expert at predicting solar phenomena such as eclipses, solstices, and equinoxes, as well as determining when the sun reached its apex.


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Life in the Rainforest

One of the many intriguing things about the Maya was their ability to build a great civilization in a tropical rainforest climate. Traditionally, ancient peoples had flourished in drier climates, where the centralized management of water resources (through irrigation and other techniques) formed the basis of society. (This was the case for the Teotihuacan of highland Mexico, contemporaries of the Classic Maya.) In the southern Maya lowlands, however, there were few navigable rivers for trade and transport, as well as no obvious need for an irrigation system.

By the late 20th century, researchers had concluded that the climate of the lowlands was in fact quite environmentally diverse. Though foreign invaders were disappointed by the region’s relative lack of silver and gold, the Maya took advantage of the area’s many natural resources, including limestone (for construction), the volcanic rock obsidian (for tools and weapons) and salt. The environment also held other treasures for the Maya, including jade, quetzal feathers (used to decorate the elaborate costumes of Maya nobility) and marine shells, which were used as trumpets in ceremonies and warfare.


Ancient Mayan Hieroglyphics Reveal Major Astronomical Discovery, Says UCSB Scholar Gerardo Aldana

For more than 120 years, the Venus Table of the Dresden Codex, an ancient Mayan book containing astronomical data, has been of great interest to scholars around the world. The accuracy of its observations, especially the calculation of a kind of leap year in the Mayan Calendar, was deemed an impressive curiosity used primarily for astrology.

But UC Santa Barbara&rsquos Gerardo Aldana, a professor of anthropology and of Chicana and Chicano studies, believes the Venus Table has been misunderstood and vastly underappreciated.

In a new journal article, Aldana makes the case that the Venus Table represents a remarkable innovation in mathematics and astronomy &mdash and a distinctly Mayan accomplishment.

&ldquoThat&rsquos why I&rsquom calling it &lsquoDiscovering Discovery,&rsquo&rdquo he explained, &ldquobecause it&rsquos not just their discovery, it&rsquos all the blinders that we have, that we&rsquove constructed and put in place that prevent us from seeing that this was their own actual scientific discovery made by Mayan people at a Mayan city.&rdquo

Aldana&rsquos paper, &ldquoDiscovering Discovery: Chich&rsquoen Itza, the Dresden Codex Venus Table and 10th Century Mayan Astronomical Innovation,&rdquo in the Journal of Astronomy in Culture, blends the study of Mayan hieroglyphics (epigraphy), archaeology and astronomy to present a new interpretation of the Venus Table, which tracks the observable phases of the second planet from the Sun.

Using this multidisciplinary approach, he said, a new reading of the table demonstrates that the mathematical correction of their &ldquoVenus calendar&rdquo &mdash a sophisticated innovation &mdash was likely developed at the city of Chich&rsquoen Itza during the Terminal Classic period (C.E. 800-1000).

What&rsquos more, the calculations may have been done under the patronage of K&rsquoak&rsquo U Pakal K&rsquoawiil, one of the city&rsquos most prominent historical figures.

&ldquoThis is the part that I find to be most rewarding, that when we get in here, we&rsquore looking at the work of an individual Mayan, and we could call him or her a scientist, an astronomer,&rdquo Aldana said. &ldquoThis person, who&rsquos witnessing events at this one city during this very specific period of time, created, through their own creativity, this mathematical innovation.&rdquo

Scholars have long known that the preface to the Venus Table, Page 24 of the Dresden Codex, contained what Aldana called a &ldquomathematical subtlety&rdquo in its hieroglyphic text. They even knew what it was for: to serve as a correction for Venus&rsquos irregular cycle, which is 583.92 days.

&ldquoSo that means if you do anything on a calendar that&rsquos based on days as a basic unit, there is going to be an error that accrues,&rdquo Aldana explained. It&rsquos the same principle used for Leap Years in the Gregorian calendar.

Scholars figured out the math for the Venus Table&rsquos leap in the 1930s, Aldana said, &ldquobut the question is, what does it mean? Did they discover it way back in the 1st century B.C.? Did they discover it in the 16th? When did they discover it and what did it mean to them? And that&rsquos where I come in.&rdquo

Unraveling the mystery demanded Aldana employ a unique set of skills. The first involved epigraphy, and it led to an important development: In poring over the Table&rsquos hieroglyphics, he came to realize that a key verb, k&rsquoal, had a different meaning than traditionally interpreted.

Used throughout the Table, k&rsquoal means &ldquoto enclose&rdquo and, in Aldana&rsquos reading, had a historical and cosmological purpose.

That breakthrough led him to question the assumptions of what the Mayan scribe who authored the text was doing in the Table. Archaeologists and other scholars could see its observations of Venus were accurate, but insisted it was based in numerology.

&ldquo[The Maya] knew it was wrong, but the numerology was more important. And that&rsquos what scholars have been saying for the last 70 years,&rdquo Aldana said.

&ldquoSo what I&rsquom saying is, let&rsquos step back and make a different assumption,&rdquo he continued. &ldquoLet&rsquos assume that they had historical records and they were keeping historical records of astronomical events and they were consulting them in the future &mdash exactly what the Greeks did and the Egyptians and everybody else. That&rsquos what they did. They kept these over a long period of time and then they found patterns within them. The history of Western astronomy is based entirely on this premise.&rdquo

To test his new assumption, Aldana turned to another Mayan archaeological site, Copán in Honduras. The former city-state has its own record of Venus, which matched as a historical record the observations in the Dresden Codex.

&ldquoNow we&rsquore just saying, let&rsquos take these as historical records rather than numerology,&rdquo he said. &ldquoAnd when you do that, when you see it as historical record, it changes the interpretation.&rdquo

The final piece of the puzzle was what Aldana, whose undergraduate degree was in mechanical engineering, calls &ldquothe machinery,&rdquo or how the pieces fit together.

Scholars know the Mayans had accurate observations of Venus, and Aldana could see that they were historical, not numerological. The question was, Why? One hint lay more than 500 years in the future: Nicolaus Copernicus.

The great Polish astronomer stumbled into the heliocentric universe while trying to figure out the predictions for future dates of Easter, a challenging feat that requires good mathematical models. That&rsquos what Aldana saw in the Venus Table.

&ldquoThey&rsquore using Venus not just to strictly chart when it was going to appear, but they were using it for their ritual cycles,&rdquo he explained. &ldquoThey had ritual activities when the whole city would come together and they would do certain events based on the observation of Venus. And that has to have a degree of accuracy, but it doesn&rsquot have to have overwhelming accuracy. When you change that perspective of, &lsquoWhat are you putting these cycles together for?&rsquo that&rsquos the third component.&rdquo

Putting those pieces together, Aldana found there was a unique period of time during the occupation of Chichen&rsquoItza when an ancient astronomer in the temple that was used to observe Venus would have seen the progressions of the planet and discovered it was a viable way to correct the calendar and to set their ritual events.

&ldquoIf you say it&rsquos just numerology that this date corresponds to it&rsquos not based on anything you can see. And if you say, &lsquoWe&rsquore just going to manipulate [the corrections written] until they give us the most accurate trajectory,&rsquo you&rsquore not confining that whole thing in any historical time,&rdquo he said. &ldquoIf, on the other hand, you say, &lsquoThis is based on a historical record,&rsquo that&rsquos going to nail down the range of possibilities. And if you say that they were correcting it for a certain kind of purpose, then all of a sudden you have a very small window of when this discovery could have occurred.&rdquo

By reinterpreting the work, Aldana said it puts the Venus Table into cultural context. It was an achievement of Mayan science, and not a numerological oddity. We might never know exactly who made that discovery, he noted, but recasting it as a historical work of science returns it to the Mayans.

&ldquoI don&rsquot have a name for this person, but I have a name for the person who is probably one of the authority figures at the time,&rdquo Aldana said. &ldquoIt&rsquos the kind of thing where you know who the pope was, but you don&rsquot know Copernicus&rsquos name. You know the pope was giving him this charge, but the person who did it? You don&rsquot know his or her name.&rdquo


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We have made it easy for you to find a PDF Ebooks without any digging. And by having access to our ebooks online or by storing it on your computer, you have convenient answers with How To Practice Mayan Astrology The Tzolkin Calendar And Your Life Path . To get started finding How To Practice Mayan Astrology The Tzolkin Calendar And Your Life Path , you are right to find our website which has a comprehensive collection of manuals listed.
Our library is the biggest of these that have literally hundreds of thousands of different products represented.

Finally I get this ebook, thanks for all these How To Practice Mayan Astrology The Tzolkin Calendar And Your Life Path I can get now!

I did not think that this would work, my best friend showed me this website, and it does! I get my most wanted eBook

wtf this great ebook for free?!

My friends are so mad that they do not know how I have all the high quality ebook which they do not!

It's very easy to get quality ebooks )

so many fake sites. this is the first one which worked! Many thanks

wtffff i do not understand this!

Just select your click then download button, and complete an offer to start downloading the ebook. If there is a survey it only takes 5 minutes, try any survey which works for you.


Mayan hieroglyphic writing

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Mayan hieroglyphic writing, system of writing used by the Maya people of Mesoamerica until about the end of the 17th century, 200 years after the Spanish conquest of Mexico. (With the 21st-century discovery of the Mayan site of San Bartolo in Guatemala came evidence of Mayan writing that pushed back its date of origin to at least 300 or 200 bc .) It was the only true writing system developed in the pre-Columbian Americas. Mayan inscriptions are found on stelae (standing stone slabs), stone lintels, sculpture, and pottery, as well as on the few surviving Mayan books, or codices. The Mayan system of writing contains more than 800 characters, including some that are hieroglyphic and other phonetic signs representing syllables. The hieroglyphic signs are pictorial—i.e., they are recognizable pictures of real objects—representing animals, people, and objects of daily life.

Until the mid-20th century, very little Mayan writing could be deciphered except for the symbols representing numbers, dates, and rulers’ names and denoting such events as birth, death, and capture. Most scholars accepted the theory that the Mayan writing system was entirely logographic—that is, that each glyph, or sign, represented an entire word. In addition, it was widely believed that the Mayan inscriptions were largely religious in character.

During the 1950s the linguist Yury Knorozov demonstrated that Mayan writing was phonetic as well as hieroglyphic. In 1958 Heinrich Berlin established that a certain category of glyphs referred either to places or to the ruling families associated with those places. Two years later Tatiana Prouskouriakoff established that the inscriptions were primarily historical: they recorded events in the lives of Mayan rulers and their families. The work of these three scholars constituted a revolution in Mayan studies, and in succeeding decades the decipherment of the writing proceeded at an accelerating rate.

The Mayan writing system is complex: a single sign may function as a logogram and also have one or more syllabic values similarly, a single logographic sign may be used to represent several words that are pronounced in the same way. In addition, different signs may share phonetic or logographic values. In some cases scholars understand the meaning of a logographic sign but have not determined its reading—i.e., what word it stands for other signs can be deciphered phonetically, but their meanings are not known. Nevertheless, by the early 21st century scholars had read a substantial number of inscriptions, affording much new information about Mayan language, history, social and political organization, and ritual life, as well as a completely different picture of Mayan civilization than had been previously proposed.

Books in Mayan hieroglyphs, called codices, existed before the Spanish conquest of Yucatán about 1540, but most works written in the script were destroyed as pagan by Spanish priests. Only four Mayan codices are known to survive: the Dresden Codex, or Codex Dresdensis, probably dating from the 11th or 12th century, a copy of earlier texts of the 5th to 9th centuries ad the Madrid Codex, or Codex Tro-Cortesianus, dating from the 15th century the Paris Codex, or Codex Peresianus, probably slightly older than the Madrid Codex and the Grolier Codex, discovered in 1971 and dated to the 13th century. The codices were made of fig-bark paper folded like an accordion their covers were of jaguar skin.

This article was most recently revised and updated by Kathleen Kuiper, Senior Editor.


Watch the video: Ancient Maya Tools of Astronomy