Only 4 Texts Remain from the Maya Civilization After Thousands Were Destroyed


Despite the reality that we are not very far removed from their
heyday, we know pretty little about Maya Culture.

And it’s not because the Maya weren’t into recording their
past:

The Maya were prolific writers and evolved from using scrolls to a form of folded paper called the codex right around the same time as the
Romans, though each appears to be independent of the other.

Photo Credit:
Nova

The Romans had papyrus, and the Maya had what they called
“huun,” made from the inner layer of the bark of certain trees.

Before that, the Maya were making fabric for tunics out of the
bark, and the process evolved to paper after more and
more people started using the tunics as a makeshift
scrolls.

Photo Credit: latinamericanstudies.org

Maya glyphs and the records of the Spanish conquistadors
they attest to thousands of these codices existing
by the time the two cultures met in the 16th century. But, due
to their being destroyed by priests, conquistadors, ship
raiders, and even time and mold, only about 22 codices, of
which only four have Maya origin, exist today.

None of them are complete, and none have their original covers.

There’s the Dresden Codex:

Photo Credit: World Digital Library

It’s perhaps the most elaborate of all the codices:

Photo Credit: World Digital Library

Photo Credit: World Digital Library

The Madrid Codex:

Photo Credit: Michel wal

The Madrid Codex is almost double the size of the Dresden
Codex, at over 22 feet long:

Photo Credit: Simon Burchell

The Madrid Codex’s 112 pages were split into two volumes which
were found in different places.

Photo Credit: latinamericanstudies.org

The Paris Codex:

Photo Credit: gallica.bnf.fr

At just under five feet and 22 pages, one might be lured
into thinking that the Paris Codex doesn’t contain much of
note:

Especially given the condition…


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Only 4 Texts Remain from the Maya Civilization After Thousands Were Destroyed

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