Mayan Writing

Topics: Maya script, Maya civilization, Logogram Pages: 3 (959 words) Published: April 18, 2005
Mayan writing is one of the most beautiful but highly complex and difficult scripts in the world. It is a system that uses pictographs and phonetic or syllabic elements. The Maya used this sophisticated style to carve symbols into stone. The most common place for writing was the 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 were referred to as codices, however only four remain today because of their perishable nature and Spanish book burning. The Maya writing system was one of the greatest achievements of their civilization.

Maya writing also appears on an array of materials and in many places such as carved stone, door lintels, architectural stuccos, painted murals and carved on pottery. The Maya believed events were repeated over cycles of time, they kept detailed histories anchored in time by their calendars to predict events. By keeping records of rainy and dry seasons, the Maya could determine the best times to plant and harvest crops. They had developed these accurate calendars that could be used for

prophecy. They also were able to predict planetary cycles, phases of the moon and Venus.
The Maya, like all Mesoamerican people, used a vigesimal numbering system. The first nineteen numerals were similar to our English terms, with unique numerals from one through ten, and the numerals eleven through nineteen produced by combining one through nine with ten.

The symbols used by the Maya to write numbers-bars and dots- were used throughout Mesoamerica. The dot has the value of one, and the bar has the value of five. The Maya are also believed to have the first known concept of zero. This is represented by the elliptical shell.

Symbols known as glyphs were used to record non-numerical information. The Maya used logographs (shorthand symbols) for many more words than we do. Another class of glyphs stood for sounds that...
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