Hieroglyphic Writing System Of The Maya

By Frank D. Gardner


One of the Mesoamerican societies which left an enormous impact on the history and culture of Central America is the Maya. The Maya were more professional compared to their neighbors in several areas, including architecture, agriculture as well as astronomy, however what has captivated explorers as well as archaeologists essentially the most is their distinctive hieroglyphic writing system, that they created over 2,300 years back.

What they have are very advanced, complex as well as visually striking glyphs. Their calligraphic style and complex phonetic system are distinct from any other writing system globally. The reason is, the ancient Maya devised their writing system independently from the rest of the world.

More About The Mayan Writing System

It's among the 3 systems on earth which have nothing common with some other writing system - Chinese and Sumerian simply being the other 2. Although the system is known as hieroglyphic since it visually looks like the system utilized in ancient Egypt, the two systems do not have anything in common and aren't related by any means.

Decoding the Code

Yet another remarkable fact in regards to the Maya hieroglyphic writing system is that it was the last of the 3 systems to be deciphered. The first attempt to decipher this system started out in 1950, with a leading breakthrough taking place in the 1970s, yet even today you can still find continuous projects in this region and not all the things has been deciphered.

Regardless of whether the Maya hieroglyphic writing system is founded on phonetic signs, it is quite distinctive from the phonetic system as we know it. The system which most western countries use these days are simpler compared to the writing system of the Maya.

Nearly all places in Europe and also Canada And America utilize the Latin alphabet, which usually comprises of 26 signs. A few other countries such as Bulgaria and Russia which are known to be Slavic countries use Cyrillic alphabet, yet even that has at most 33 signs.

If you compare the 26 as well as the 33 signs the modern world uses today, compared to the 800 signs of the Maya used when forming their words wull surely take your breath away. The list of signs the Maya put to use is generally known as the Syllabary, basically because every sign in their language presents a full syllable.

Mayan Syllables and Vowels

In the syllabary, the sound is produced by means of pairing a consonant with one of the vowels; the ancient Maya language is comprised of 5 vowels. The Maya employed a different glyph for each syllable, which explains why there were over 800 glyphs to pick from whenever writing. A few of the glyphs when deciphered were determined to have many meanings (polyvalent glyphs).

Similar to the way we write today, the ancient Maya wrote their glyphs in rows and columns. Even so, the way in which their texts are read differs. In the event that the text has just 2 columns, the way in which the text is read is left to right just as we usually read these days. In the event that the text has way more columns, various rules apply:

When the texts have an even number of columns then it is read in a manner like this: first the first two columns are read left to right; and then the 2nd set of two columns are read left to right and so on right until there are no more sets of two columns remaining.

In case the texts have an uneven number of columns then they are read like this: the very first column is read on its own top to bottom; then the 2nd two columns are read together left to right.

Unravel more for yourself

There certainly is a whole lot more than can be stated pertaining to the ancient Maya along with their completely unique writing system; on the other hand, the most efficient way to experience this is to figure out for yourself by means of touring the ancient Maya ruins found in Central America and additionally listening to the travel guides telling the Mayan civilization and its very interesting story.




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