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Breaking the Maya Code (Third Edition) –…
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Breaking the Maya Code (Third Edition) (alkuperäinen julkaisuvuosi 1992; vuoden 2012 painos)

– tekijä: Michael D. Coe (Tekijä)

JäseniäKirja-arvostelujaSuosituimmuussijaKeskimääräinen arvioMaininnat
571630,828 (3.94)29
In the past dozen years, Maya decipherment has made great strides, in part due to the Internet, which has made possible the truly international scope of hieroglyphic scholarship: glyphic experts can be found not only in North America, Mexico, Guatemala, and western Europe but also in Russia and the countries of eastern Europe.The third edition of this classic book takes up the thorny question of when and where the Maya script first appeared in the archaeological record, and describes efforts to decipher its meaning on the extremely early murals of San Bartolo. It includes iconographic and epigraphic investigations into how the Classic Maya perceived and recorded the human senses, a previously unknown realm of ancient Maya thought and perception.There is now compelling documentary and historical evidence bearing on the question of why and how the "breaking of the Maya code" was the achievement of Yuri V. Knorosov--a Soviet citizen totally isolated behind the Iron Curtain--and not of the leading Maya scholar of his day, Sir Eric Thompson. What does it take to make such a breakthrough, with a script of such complexity as the Maya? We now have some answers, as Michael Coe demonstrates here.… (lisätietoja)
Jäsen:Babbler
Teoksen nimi:Breaking the Maya Code (Third Edition)
Kirjailijat:Michael D. Coe (Tekijä)
Info:Thames & Hudson (2012), Edition: Third, 304 pages
Kokoelmat:Oma kirjasto
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Breaking the Maya Code (tekijä: Michael D. Coe) (1992)

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Näyttää 1-5 (yhteensä 6) (seuraava | näytä kaikki)
Excellent and interesting. At the time I read this, I was all set to learn Mayan hieroglyphs. Then I realized that I would have to learn Mayan. Eesh. Chan Balam - Sky Jaguar. That's about as far as I got in my notebook I was keeping. Then I adopted an iguana and suddenly got very, very busy. The book however - it was great. Love reading about ancient languages and translations of ancient scripts. ( )
  Chica3000 | Dec 11, 2020 |
Very interesting! Particularly in the later sections as you find out more about the Maya - for instance the fact that they seemed to love 'tagging' everything with their names. 'His cup, his bowl', fine, but also 'his bone' (inscribed on a bit of bone in a tomb) and so on.

Now I want to read the updated version to find out what the research in this area since 1994 has revealed. ( )
  comixminx | Apr 4, 2014 |
"When Charlemagne was crowned Emperor by the Pope in St. Peter's in Rome, on Christmas Day in the year 800, Maya civilization was it its height: scattered throughout the jungle-covered lowlands of the Yucatán Peninsula were more than a dozen brilliant city-states, with huge populations, towering temple-pyramids and sophisticated royal courts. The arts, scientific learning, and, above all, writing flourished under royal patronage. Maya mathematicians and astronomers scanned the heavens, and tracked the planets as they moved across the background of the stars in the tropical night. Royal scribes --devotees of the twin Monkey-Man Gods -- wrote all this down in their bark-paper books, and inscribed the deeds of their kings, queens, and princes on stone monuments and the walls of their temples and palaces.

Even the mightiest empires have their day and finally crumble, awaiting resurrection by the archaeologist's spade. It was not long after 800 that things began to fall apart for the ancient Maya, who had enjoyed six centuries of prosperity during Europe's Dark Age, and city after city was abandoned to the encroaching forest. Then there was a final brief renaissance of lowland culture in northern Yucatán, to be followed by the final cataclysm brought about at the hands of the white foreigners from across the sea."
pp. 48-49

I start with this long excerpt because it sets the stage for Michael Coe's story of how Maya writing was deciphered and because it shows his readable but scholarly approach. I picked up this book, which has sat on my TBR since October 17, 1992, according to the sales slip still inside it, because I recently enjoyed Margalit Fox's The Riddle of the Labyrinth about deciphering Linear B.

The central questions posed by this book are why it took so long to "break" the Maya code and what understanding their writing tells us about the Maya and their lives and preoccupations. In large part, this is an intellectual history of the people who tried to decipher the writing, and one of the enjoyable aspects of the book is the way Coe gently but pointedly describes where they went wrong, as when he remarks, about an extremely influential researcher in the field, "It as though someone were pursing a career in evolutionary biology, and decided to ignore Darwin."

The story of decoding Maya writing is at once a comedy of errors, a tale of opportunities missed and what Coe calls "stumbling blocks," a story of chance serendipities, and a look at the hard work of anthropologists and linguists. Writing can be logographic (using symbols for words or the smallest parts of words, called morphemes), syllabic (with symbols for consonant-vowel combinations), or alphabetic (like ours). At first, Mayan writing was thought to be logographic, although a 16th century Spanish priest, Bishop Landa, wrote down syllabic and alphabetic sounds associated with different glyphs and images; his work was lost for centuries but proved helpful much later in confirming interpretations arrived at using other methods.

By the time Coe, a Yale anthropology professor, wrote this book in 1992, researchers had finally broken the code, learning that although there are glyphs that represent individual people and other words, most of them are syllabic and used in combinations. They were finally able to read the inscriptions on monuments, and thus learned that they were neither all dates (the Mayans had an amazing obsession with dates) or all astronomical observations (ditto), as had been previously hypothesized, but detailed the accession of rulers to power, their genealogical heritage, their capture of prisoners, their somewhat bloody rituals, and more. I have no doubt that in the 20+ years since, much more has been discovered, but this is a fascinating tale of real people and real research, as well as a portrait of very real people who lived more than a thousand years ago. One of the interesting findings to come out of this new understanding is the prestige associated with being a scribe, and their artistic leanings. As Coe writes:

"Now, the ancient Maya scribes could have written everything expressed in their language using only the syllabic signary -- but they did not, any more than did the Japanese with their kana signs, or the Sumerians and Hittites with their syllabaries, or the Egyptians with their stock of consonantal signs. The logograms just had too much prestige to abolish. And why should they have done so? 'One picture is worth a thousand words,' as the saying goes, and Maya logograms, like their Egyptian equivalents, are often remarkably pictorial and thus more immediately informative than a series of abstract phonetic signs: for example, the Maya could, and sometimes did, write out balam, "jaguar," syllabically as ba-la-m(a), but by using a jaguar's head for balam, the scribe could get his word across in a more dramatic fashion. p. 264

Coe lived through a dramatic breakthrough in understanding a fascinating culture and people. This book tells how it happened.
3 ääni rebeccanyc | Sep 17, 2013 |
Interesting, but complicated, subject matter. This is not the simplified story that was shown on the PBS special.

I enjoyed it, but it might not be that great for someone without an interest in linguistics or language. Its major flaw, I think, is that the author has tried to find a middle ground between being too technical and being too vague, and has ended up with something that can be both. It's not textbook rigorous, but it might be a little too complicated for someone without any linguistic background. Despite his attempts to explain all the concepts, they are pretty complicated and come at you fast. ( )
  kutsuwamushi | Feb 14, 2012 |
Wow. This has to be one of the most readable academic volumes I have ever encountered. Coe's writing style is friendly, engaging, and even humorous at times. He provides a very thorough and well organized history of the decipherment of the Mayan glyphs. Part history, part biography (of many, many - maybe all individuals involved in the subject), and part scuttlebutt - Coe walks us through the key events and persons involved in the lengthy and distributed efforts to decipher the glyphs.

This volume is worth reading for anyone with even the remotest interest in language, archeology or epigraphy - it is just so engaging!

This volume is worth reading for anyone seriously interested in the topic of Mayan glyphs due to its extensive bibliograpy and references. ( )
  jsoos | Sep 5, 2010 |
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In the past dozen years, Maya decipherment has made great strides, in part due to the Internet, which has made possible the truly international scope of hieroglyphic scholarship: glyphic experts can be found not only in North America, Mexico, Guatemala, and western Europe but also in Russia and the countries of eastern Europe.The third edition of this classic book takes up the thorny question of when and where the Maya script first appeared in the archaeological record, and describes efforts to decipher its meaning on the extremely early murals of San Bartolo. It includes iconographic and epigraphic investigations into how the Classic Maya perceived and recorded the human senses, a previously unknown realm of ancient Maya thought and perception.There is now compelling documentary and historical evidence bearing on the question of why and how the "breaking of the Maya code" was the achievement of Yuri V. Knorosov--a Soviet citizen totally isolated behind the Iron Curtain--and not of the leading Maya scholar of his day, Sir Eric Thompson. What does it take to make such a breakthrough, with a script of such complexity as the Maya? We now have some answers, as Michael Coe demonstrates here.

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