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This volume offers new calendrical models and methodologies for reading, dating, and interpreting the general significance of the Madrid Codex. The longest of the surviving Maya codices, the Madrid Codex includes texts and images painted by scribes conversant in Maya hieroglyphic writing, a written means of communication practiced by Maya elites from the second to the fifteenth centuries A.D. Some scholars have recently argued that the Madrid Codex originated in the Petén region of Guatemala and post-dates European contact. The contributors to this volume challenge that view by demonstrating convincingly that it originated in northern Yucatán and was painted in the Pre-Columbian era. In addition, several contributors reveal provocative connections among the Madrid and Borgia group of codices from Central Mexico.
Astronomers, Scribes, and Priests examines evidence for cultural interchange among the intellectual powerbrokers in Postclassic Mesoamerica, specifically those centered in the northern Maya lowlands and the central Mexican highlands. Contributors to the volume’s thirteen chapters bring an interdisciplinary perspective to understanding the interactions that led to shared content in hieroglyphic codices and mural art. The authors address similarities in artifacts, architectural styles, and building alignments—often produced in regions separated by hundreds of miles—based on their analyses of iconographic, archaeological, linguistic, and epigraphic material. The volume includes a wealth of new data and interpretive frameworks in this comprehensive discussion of a critical time period in the Mesoamerican past.
Re-Creating Primordial Time offers a new perspective on the Maya codices, documenting the extensive use of creation mythology and foundational rituals in the hieroglyphic texts and iconography of these important manuscripts. Focusing on both pre-Columbian codices and early colonial creation accounts, Vail and Hernández show that in spite of significant cultural change during the Postclassic and Colonial periods, the mythological traditions reveal significant continuity, beginning as far back as the Classic period. Remarkable similarities exist within the Maya tradition, even as new mythologies were introduced through contact with the Gulf Coast region and highland central Mexico. Vail and Hernández analyze the extant Maya codices within the context of later literary sources such as the Books of Chilam Balam, the Popol Vuh, and the Códice Chimalpopoca to present numerous examples highlighting the relationship among creation mythology, rituals, and lore. Compiling and comparing Maya creation mythology with that of the Borgia codices from highland central Mexico, Re-Creating Primordial Time is a significant contribution to the field of Mesoamerican studies and will be of interest to scholars of archaeology, linguistics, epigraphy, and comparative religions alike.
Archaeoastronomy and the Maya illustrates archaeoastronomical approaches to ancient Mayan cultural production. The book is contextualized through a history of archaeoastronomical investigations into Mayan sites, originating in the 19th century discovery of astronomical tables within hieroglyphic books. Early 20th century archaeological excavations revealed inscriptions carved into stone that also preserved astronomical records, along with architecture that was built to reflect astronomical orientations. These materials provided the basis of a growing professionalized archaeoastronomy, blossoming in the 1970s and expanding into recent years. The chapters here exemplify the advances made in the field during the early 21st century as well as the on-going diversity of approaches, presenting new perspectives and discoveries in ancient Mayan astronomy that result from recent studies of architectural alignments, codices, epigraphy, iconography, ethnography, and calendrics. More than just investigations of esoteric ancient sciences, studies of ancient Mayan astronomy have profoundly aided our understanding of Mayan worldviews. Concepts of time and space, meanings encoded in religious art, intentions underlying architectural alignments, and even methods of political legitimization are all illuminated through the study of Mayan astronomy.
The volume, an homage to Mary Elizabeth Smith, contains twenty-five essays that focus on the art and intellectual culture of ancient Mesoamerica as that culture is revealed primarily in painted books or "codices" of the native tradition. The authors explore aspects of indigenous knowledge, such as religion and ritual, calendrical systems, rulership, and spatial and historical reckoning. Cultures treated include the Toltecs, as well as the Aztecs, Miktecs, Zapotecs, and Maya in the precolumbian and colonial periods.
The Rabinal Achi, one of the most remarkable works of Mayan literature, dates back to the 1400s. The drama is set in the Guatemalan highlands in the second half of the fifteenth century. In an exemplary trial that takes place in Kajyub, the capital of the Rabinaleb at that time, a captured enemy warrior (Quiché Achi) appears before the royal court. A series of combative dialogues pits the offending warrior against the local warrior (Rabinal Achi) and the king (Job Toj), reconstructing the deeds of those involved and retracing the antagonistic history of these two Mayan groups, the Quiché and the Rabinaleb. Alain Breton approaches the text from an anthropological and ethnographical perspective, demonstrating that this indigenous text reenacts pre-Columbian historic paradigms. Breton translated into French an entirely new transcription of the original text, and Teresa Lavender Fagan and Robert Schneider translated the text into English. Both the transcription and the translation are accompanied by detailed commentary and a glossary.
From the Preclassic to the present, Maya peoples have continuously built, altered, abandoned, and re-used structures, imbuing them with new meanings at each transformation. RUINS OF THE PAST is the first volume to focus on how later Maya peoples perceived, used, and sometimes ritually destroyed ruins of structures built by ancestors.

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