Translating Maya Hieroglyphs

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University of Oklahoma Press, Jun 24, 2013 - History - 402 pages
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Maya hieroglyphic writing may seem impossibly opaque to beginning students, but scholar Scott A. J. Johnson presents it as a regular and comprehensible system in this engaging, easy-to-follow textbook. The only comprehensive introduction designed specifically for those new to the study, Translating Maya Hieroglyphs uses a hands-on approach to teach learners the current state of Maya epigraphy.

Johnson shows readers step by step how to translate ancient Maya glyphs. He begins by describing how to break down a Mayan text into individual glyphs in the correct reading order, and then explains the different types of glyphs and how they function in the script. Finally, he shows how to systematically convert a Mayan inscription into modern English.

Not simply a reference volume, Translating Maya Hieroglyphs is pedagogically arranged so that it functions as an introductory foreign-language textbook. Chapters cover key topics, including spelling, dates and numbers, basic grammar, and verbs. Formal linguistic information is accessibly explained, while worksheets and exercises complement and reinforce the material covered in the text. Glyph blocks and phrases drawn from actual monuments illustrate the variety and scribal virtuosity of Maya writing.

The Maya writing system has not been fully deciphered. Throughout the text, Johnson outlines and explains the outstanding disputes among Mayanists. At the end of each chapter, he offers sources for further reading. Helpful appendices provide quick reference to vocabulary, glyph meanings, and calendrical data for students undertaking a translation.

The study of Maya glyphs has long been an arcane subject known only to a few specialists. This book will change that. Taking advantage of the great strides scholars have made in deciphering hieroglyphs in the past four decades, Translating Maya Hieroglyphs brings this knowledge to a broader audience, including archaeologists and budding epigraphers.

 

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Contents

Introduction
3
Chapter 1 The Nature of the Script
15
Chapter 2 Spelling and Language
59
Chapter 3 Dates and Numbers
73
Chapter 4 Basic Grammar
121
Chapter 5 Verbal Grammar
165
Chapter 6 Putting It All Together
193
Appendix I Grammar
219
Appendix IV1 Classic Mayan to English Lexicon
257
Appendix IV2 English to Classic Mayan Lexicon
333
Appendix V Calendar Programs
359
Appendix VI How to Draw Monuments and Texts
362
Glossary
365
References
367
Exercise Answer Key
372
index
381

Appendix II Catalog Correspondence
225
Appendix III Basic Vocabulary
236

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About the author (2013)

Scott A. Johnson is Research Associate in the Department of Anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis. He is the author of several articles and book chapters on Maya archaeology and epigraphy.