How To Read Maya Hieroglyphs

Overview

The spectacular hieroglyphic writing system of the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica eluded modern-day decipherment for more than 200 years. This comprehensive introductory course teaches the structure and use of the now almost fully recovered script, and serves as a reference to its features and symbols. More than 350 glyphic illustrations appear, along with color photographs of hieroglyphs in their original context.
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Overview

The spectacular hieroglyphic writing system of the ancient Maya of Mesoamerica eluded modern-day decipherment for more than 200 years. This comprehensive introductory course teaches the structure and use of the now almost fully recovered script, and serves as a reference to its features and symbols. More than 350 glyphic illustrations appear, along with color photographs of hieroglyphs in their original context.
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Editorial Reviews

Booknews
Travels in Central America tweaked epigrapher and illustrator Montgomery's interest in the ancient Maya. After reviewing the two- century effort to decipher the script, he describes its elements and how they combine into text. Annotation c. Book News, Inc., Portland, OR (booknews.com)
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780781810203
  • Publisher: Hippocrene Books, Inc.
  • Publication date: 1/1/2004
  • Series: New Language Guides
  • Pages: 378
  • Product dimensions: 0.78 (w) x 6.00 (h) x 9.00 (d)

Table of Contents

Acknowledgments xv
Introduction 1
Map of the Maya World 2
Pronunciation 9
Orthography 13
Conventions for Transcribing Maya Glyphs 15
T-Numbers 17
Abbreviations 19
Chapter 1 History of Decipherment 21
Discovery Phase: Early Attempts 22
Initial Decipherments 24
The Age of Thompson 27
The Historical Phase of Decipherment 28
Phonetic Decipherment 30
Chapter 2 The Basics 35
Organization 35
Types of Glyphs: Carved Versus Painted Forms 40
Types of Glyphs: Functional Forms 41
Types of Glyphs: Iconographic Forms 45
Types of Glyphs: Grammatical Forms 47
Polyvalent Signs 51
Selected Common Signs 52
Chapter 3 Introduction to the Calendars: Numbers, Initial Series, and Long Count 57
Numbers 57
Systems of Time 64
Initial Series 64
Long Count 66
Summary 70
Chapter 4 The Calendar Round 71
Tzolk'in 74
Ja'ab' 80
How the Calendar Round Works 85
The Initial Series: Putting Everything Together 87
Chapter 5 The Supplementary and Other Series 89
Lords of the Night 89
Lunar Series 94
819-Day Count 98
Glyphs Y and Z 100
Putting It All Together 101
Chapter 6 Period Endings and Distance Numbers 105
Period Endings 105
Distance Numbers 111
Suppression of Signs 116
Distance Numbers as Initial Series 116
Summary 118
Chapter 7 Phoneticism in the Maya Script 119
Landa's "Alphabet" 120
Clues from the Codices 122
The Principle of Synharmony 124
Spelling Conventions 126
Morpho-syllables 130
Substitution Sets 130
The Syllabary 131
The Language of the Glyphs 134
Summary 135
Chapter 8 Verbs, Verbal Inflection, and Grammatical Elements 137
How to Identify Verbs 138
Verbal Inflection 148
General Verbs 150
Ti Constructions 151
Summary 151
Chapter 9 The Major Events 161
Birth 162
Heir Designation 163
Accession 165
House, Monument, and Object Dedications 170
Arrival and Departure 175
Appear, Emerge 176
Miscellaneous Actions 177
Contract, "Betrothal" 184
Get Drunk, Dance 185
Bloodletting and Sacrifice 186
War 188
Death 194
Burial 195
Chapter 10 Names and Titles 197
Personal Name Clauses 198
Titles and Offices 201
Royal Names 212
Artists' Signatures and Titles 215
Chapter 11 Relationships 219
Parentage Statements 219
Wife 224
Siblings and Other Relatives 224
Companions 225
Political Relationships 225
Summary 228
Chapter 12 Locations and Objects 229
Directional and Color Glyphs 229
Emblem Glyphs 231
Titles of Origin 235
Toponyms 235
Names of Buildings 238
Monuments and Other Objects 238
Tribute 240
Summary 241
Chapter 13 Gods and Supernaturals 243
"The Heavenly God, the Earthly God, All the Gods" 243
Lineage Founders 245
Vision Serpents 247
Way, Wayob' 248
The Pantheon of Major Gods 250
Chapter 14 The Primary Standard Sequence 257
The Basic Formula 258
The Introductory or Presentation Phrase 261
Surface Treatment 262
Vessel Type 263
Vessel Contents 265
The Closure Phrase 267
Summary 269
Chapter 15 Discourse and Structural Analysis: Putting It All Together 271
The Discourse Structure of Yaxchilan Stela 11 272
Multiple Episodes and Events 272
Establishing an Event Line 276
Discourse Structure on Piedras Negras Panel 3 277
Chapter 16 Advanced Decipherment 295
Techniques of Structural and Comparative Analysis 295
Advanced Analysis: Calculations Into the Extreme Past 297
Problems in Decipherment: Looking Forward 302
How to Teach Yourself In Greater Depth 306
Yaxchilan Stela 11, Front, Lower Glyph Panel 308
Appendix I Sample Texts and Practice Inscriptions 309
Easy 309
Difficult 316
Appendix II A Guide to Hieroglyphic Resources 325
Internet Resources 325
Publication Series 327
Sources of Inscriptions 328
Annual Meetings 329
Bibliography 331
List of Illustrations 339
List of Plates 351
Index 353
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