By the time Spanish conquistadors arrived in Mexico in the sixteenth century, Maya cities had long since fallen into a state of decay and abandonment. Europeans were impressed by the painted books of the Maya but concluded that they did not have a system of writing because no alphabetic value could be given to their script. This impression remained in the West until recently when researchers finally succeeded in deciphering the written record of the Mayas.
Maya Script presents about 200 Maya glyphs (symbolic figures). Some are ideograms (pictorial symbols representing things, not words); others are phonetic signs. The glyphs express people, animals, things, and such abstract concepts as death. Each one opens a window onto fragments of everyday life, religious beliefs, or even emotions. The complexity of the Maya calendar, mathematical computations, and astronomy reveals a highly developed civilization. This book also features two-color drawings of the glyphs, illustrations from reliefs and Spanish codices, and examples of Maya sculpture and paintings. Concluding the book are a chapter on writing systems of the New World, a bibliography, and an index of glyphs. This informative book is a travelogue back in time for anyone intrigued by ancient civilizations.
A scholar of South and Central American pre-Columbian civilizations and history,
Maria Longhena is actively engaged in intensive research of Maya written sources.
Her studies have been published in international scientific journals and she has
been involved in numerous museum exhibitions in Europe, including Inca-Peru:
3000 Years of History and In Search of the American Past.