Reading the Maya Glyphs

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Thames & Hudson, 2001 - Social Science - 176 pages
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Decipherment of Maya hieroglyphic writing has reached the point that most Maya texts -- whether inscribed on the monuments, written in the codices, or painted or incised on ceramics -- can now be read with some confidence. The "breaking of the Maya code" has completely changed our knowledge of this ancient civilization, and has given the Maya people a long and vivid history lacking in other areas of the pre-Columbian New World.

In the recent past, a working knowledge of this script has been confined to epigraphers, art historians, and other specialists. Its very unfamiliarity to the general public, and the daunting aspect of its approximately 800 signs, have made the system appear more complex and arcane than it really is.

Reading the Maya Glyphs is a compact, portable guide that enables students, tourists, and armchair travelers to read and understand commonly encountered Classic Maya texts. Illustrated by the drawings of Mark Van Stone, one of America's most gifted calligraphers, it presupposes no previous training in Maya epigraphy or archaeology. In the hands of visitors to the great Maya sites of Mexico and Central America, or consulted by museum-goers, this guide will enhance appreciation of some of the world's greatest art and architecture.

Topics covered include the nature of the language and the writing system, the intricate Maya calendar, dynastic and political texts, and the Maya natural and supernatural world. Informed by the latest research on the script, Reading the Maya Glyphs is a window on the vanished world of the ancient Maya rulers and their people.

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Reading the Maya glyphs

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Although most Mayan inscriptions have been deciphered within the last 30 years, very little has been written for the general reader interested in learning to read these ancient hieroglyphics. To ... Read full review

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About the author (2001)

Michael D. Coe is Professor Emeritus of Anthropology at Yale University. His books include The Maya, Mexico, Breaking the Maya Code, Angkor and the Khmer Civilization, and Reading the Maya Glyphs. He lives in New Haven, Connecticut.

Mark Van Stone trained as a type designer, stone carver, and art historian, and is the leading interpreter of Maya calligraphic art.

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