An Introduction to the Study of the Maya Hieroglyphs

An Introduction to the Study of the Maya Hieroglyphs

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An Introduction to the Study of the Maya Hieroglyphs

An Introduction to the Study of the Maya Hieroglyphs

Read FREE!

Excerpt

With the great expansion of interest in American archeology during the last few years there has grown to be a corresponding need and demand for primary textbooks, archeological primers so to speak, which will enable the general reader, without previous knowledge of the science, to understand its several branches. With this end in view, the author has prepared An Introduction to the Study of the Maya Hieroglyphs.

The need for such a textbook in this particular field is suggested by two considerations: (1) The writings of previous investigators, having been designed to) meet the needs of the specialist rather than those of the beginner, are for the greater part too advanced and technical for general comprehension; and (2) these writings are scattered through many publications, periodicals as well as books, some in foreign languages, and almost all difficult of access to the average reader.

To the second of these considerations, however, the writings of Mr. C. P. Bowditch, of Boston, Massachusetts, offer a conspicuous exception, particularly his final contribution to this subject, entitled "The Numeration, Calendar Systems, and Astronomical Knowledge of the Mayas," the publication of which in 1910 marked the dawn of a new era in the study of the Maya hieroglyphic writing. In this work Mr. Bowditch exhaustively summarizes all previous knowledge of the subject, and also indicates the most promising lines for future investigation. The book is a vast storehouse of heretofore scattered material, now gathered together for the first time and presented to the student in a readily accessible form. Indeed, so thorough is its treatment, the result of many years of intensive study, that the writer would have hesitated to bring out another work, necessarily covering much of the same ground, had it not been for his belief that Mr. Bowditch's book is too advanced for lay comprehension. The Maya hieroglyphic writing is exceedingly intricate; its subject matter is complex and its forms irregular; and in order to be understood it must be presented in a very elementary way. The writer believes that this primer method of treatment has not been followed in the publication in question and, furthermore, that the omission of specimen texts, which would give the student practice in deciphering the glyphs, renders it too technical for use by the beginner.

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