September 29, 2023

Your Voice and Language Matters! – 2. The Five Originals – Part 4

Hello everyone!
Previously, we have discussed on various civilizations and their contributions to the languages we have today. In that list today we are going to explore on one civilization which is very infamous for its apocryphal modern history. We all should have came across it at least once. Now, its time to explore its known history of literature.

Mayan Civilization (1800 B.C. to 250 A.D.)

The Mayan civilization proved their excellence in agriculture, pottery, hieroglyph writing, mathematics and calendar making. They are also very well known for their impressive symbolic artwork and architectures. The presence of Mayan civilization can be seen in the present day cities of Guatemala, Yucatan peninsula, Belize and other parts of Tabasco and Chiapas in Mexico, Central America.
The two million thousand population civilization had a single language in its earliest periods. But a great linguistic diversity developed among the people of civilization in the pre-classic period which lead to people speaking seventy different Mayan languages which are mostly bilingual in Spanish.
The early language of Mayan civilization was very much similar to Egyptian Civilization. Mayan language has a combination of phonetic symbols and ideograms. This was the only writing system to represent spoken language of the pre-Colombian new world same as any written language in the ancient world.

Fig. 1: Mayan Glyph (Source:

Mayans believed that the writing and their arts in general was invented by their God Itzamna. They believed that their sacred text “The Popol Vuh” was written by the twin brother gods, the monkey scribes – God Hun Batz and Hun Chuen.
Mayans were one among the civilizations of those days used highly sophisticated encoded scripts. It was a hugely laborious process to decipher those scripts. The deciphering process on a few those scripts started during the late 19th century and the early 20th century. After a major breakthrough of deciphering in 1960 to 1970, reading those scripts has become plain sailing in their original language.
Mayans composed their inscriptions on stone and wood. They wrote books which are mostly codices using the bark paper coated with lime for white background which are highly perishable. Rectangular lumps of plaster and paint chips were also the discovery of Mayan archaeology.

Fig. 2: Mayan inscription on a rectangular plaster (Source: Rutgers school of arts and science)

The codex probably kept track of dynastic information in their unique calculi-form of hieroglyphic characters since they were screen folded those books and bounded them with wood and also hided them. Twenty seven of their codices was publicly destroyed in 1562 by Bishop Landa at Mani.

Fig. 3: Venus table in Dresden Codex (Source: Sci-News)

As of today, only four codices exist. Namely, Dresden Codex, Troano Codex, Codex Peresianus, Grolier Codex.
The pages of Dresden codex was made of amate. The contents of the codex were each and every celestial event described in astronomical tables very detaily. Troana codex rituals such as rituals of human sacrifices and involving rainfall, beekeeping, hunting warfare and weaving. Codex Peresianus was the zodiac book of Mayans. Grolier codex contains calendars with 90 days of invisibility in superior conjunction, 250 days of visibility as evening star. 8 days of invisibility of inferior conjunction, 236 days of visibility as morning star for a total of 584 days, five Venus cycles equal to 8 solar years of 365 days providing numerological opportunities. The famous Mayan calendar comes under this codex.

Fig. 4: The famous Mayan calendar (Source: Atlantic council)

The above figure was the famous Mayan calendar which made many controversies on ending of the world. Hollywood director Roland Emmerich directed an apocalypse movie titled “2012” in the year 2009 for a box office hit of 76.97 crores USD which was based on the Mayan calendar ending. After the movie, the civilization undergoes major controversies till date.

FYI: Artists from Mayan civilization attached their name to their work.
B.C. – Before Christ
A.D. – Anno Domini

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