Local Stories

Scholar presents new reading on Mayan hieroglyphics

Scholar presents new reading on Mayan hieroglyphics

Amigos805.com

SANTA BARBARA - By presenting a new interpretation of a Maya hieroglyphic verb, Gerardo Aldana, associate professor of Chicana and Chicano Studies at UC Santa Barbara, has revised the understanding of one of the longest-studied texts in Maya archaeology, UCSB reported Monday in a media release.

According to Aldana, at the end of the 19th century, the German philologist Ernst Förstemann discovered the basis of the modern interpretation of a Venus table in the 13th-century Maya manuscript known as the Dresden Codex.

The six-page Venus table is an almanac dedicated to tracking the observable phases of the planet Venus. Förstemann's interpretation laid the groundwork for academic and popular 20th-century characterizations of the Maya as "obsessed" with astronomy and time. While scholars have added to his interpretation over the next 100 years, all have followed the basic model resulting from his work.

In his new book, Aldana shows that "k'al," the main verb referring to Venus events in the Dresden Codex, has been misread. He argues that the verb refers to an "enclosing" of time and space, such as that found throughout the Postclassic Mesoamerican ritual activity.

"The key to my argument is that previously recognized records are pictorial, graphically representing the 'cosmogram' that ties space and time together," Aldana said. "But I show that the Dresden Codex Venus Table records the same concept in hieroglyphic text -- the idea is the same in both cases, but represented by an image in the Aztec convention, and by hieroglyphic text according to Mayan sensibilities."

The new hieroglyphic reading is accompanied by a revision of the mathematics of the Venus Table, also departing from the 70-year-old tradition in the field, Aldana said.

"Overall, the result shows a much greater coherence to Postclassic religion throughout Mesoamerica," he explained. "And while contact between the regions has never been in question -- the Venus pages in the Dresden Codex, for example, include the names of Aztec deities, modified so they could be written with Mayan hieroglyphs -- the new interpretation goes beyond the mere appropriation of 'gods' to the sharing of deeper religious concepts."

The revision is also tied...

Finish reading Scholar presents new reading on Mayan hieroglyphics

Click to add a comment

You must be logged in to post a comment Login

Leave a Reply

Local Stories

More in Local Stories

20141222_0092-1-copy-e1435254669268

Mission District’s Bolivian dance group celebrates 15 years

Latina ListaJune 29, 2015
544b55bccf868.image

U.S.-Mexico Border Wells Drying Up

Latina ListaJune 26, 2015
1743525_851156791635964_1258547508640946199_n

San Antonio artist establishes “M.A.S for the Masses

Latina ListaJune 25, 2015
Critics say one disadvantage of Structured English Immersion is that the only English speaker, the teacher, may have 20 students, which makes it hard for students to practice their English.

Federal court upholds Arizona’s process for teaching non-English speakers

Latina ListaJune 23, 2015
33688848_19ee6ca849_o

Latin American flags coming to streetlights in Chicago’s Humboldt Park

Latina ListaJune 22, 2015
Chicano Legacy 40 Anos

Campaign for ethnic studies in San Diego schools is getting results

Latina ListaJune 19, 2015
heirloom-bassinette

Texas’ denial of birth certificates being challenged in court

Latina ListaJune 17, 2015
iphone-import-3-17-14-387

Univ. of Texas El Paso’s researchers developing water filter to help colonias

Latina ListaJune 16, 2015
istock_000016475829medium

Stamford’s Miriam Arzola Immigration Status Unknown – But City Honors Her For Exceptional Volunteerism

Latina ListaJune 15, 2015