Mayan hieroglyphic writing


Mayan hieroglyphic writing

System of writing used by people of the Maya civilization until the 17th century AD. The script is known to have existed since at least 200 BC. Of the various scripts developed in pre-Columbian Mesoamerica, Mayan writing is by far the most elaborate and abundantly attested: about 800 signs have been inventoried in more than 5,000 instances (see Maya Codices). Signs—some representational, some quite abstract—are either logographic, representing words, or syllabic, representing consonant-vowel sequences. Typically, up to five signs are fitted into tight square or rectangular clusters, which are further arranged into rows or grids. The language of Classic Period writing (c. AD 250–900) is generally thought to be Cholan, ancestral to several modern Maya languages; later inscriptions are in Yucatec. By the early 21st century, scholars had an accurate grasp of 60–70% of Mayan inscriptions, with some texts almost completely readable and some still quite opaque. Most inscriptions record significant events and dates in the lives of Mayan rulers.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
For the full entry on Mayan hieroglyphic writing, visit Britannica.com.

Seen & Heard

What made you look up Mayan hieroglyphic writing? Please tell us what you were reading, watching or discussing that led you here.