The Hieroglyphic Writing of the Maya

 

 

For a people to lose their history is a tragedy; to recover it, a miracle.

Breaking the Maya Code is the story of the 200-year struggle to unlock the secrets of the world's last major undeciphered writing system. Based on archaeologist and historian Michael Coe's book of the same title (which The New York Times called "one of the great stories of twentieth century scientific discovery") and filmed in over 40 locations in nine countries, this amazing detective story is filled with false leads, rivalries and colliding personalities. It leads us from the jungles of Guatemala to the bitter cold of Russia, from ancient Maya temples to the dusty libraries of Dresden and Madrid.

The heroes of the story are an extraordinary and diverse group of men and women: an English photographer, a German librarian, a Russian soldier, a California newspaperman, an art teacher from Tennessee, and an 18-year-old boy immersed in the glyphs since early childhood. Surprisingly, the decipherment reveals not peaceful kingdoms but warring city-states in a long struggle for domination. The texts also reveal a strange world of kings and queens who regularly shed and burned their blood to invoke the Vision Serpent, a world shaped by an intricate cosmology that weaves together the lives of humans, the deeds of mythic heroes and the cycles of the planets and the stars.

For the six million Maya alive today, a people who had been cut off from their own extraordinary past, the decipherment is like a time machine - uniting them with their own lost history and opening up an invaluable treasure for all of us.

 

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