Researchers began decoding the glyphic language of the ancient Maya long ago, but the Internet is helping them finish the job and write the history of the enigmatic Mesoamerican civilization.
For centuries, scholars understood little about Maya script beyond its elegant astronomical calculations and calendar. The Maya dominated much of Central America and southern Mexico for 1,000 years before their civilization collapsed about 600 years before the Spaniards reached the New World.
The Maya script began to give up its secrets in the 1950s and ’60s, and progress accelerated in the 1970s. But much remains to be puzzled out from the immense body of carvings and inscriptions that has languished for centuries in jungle ruins and museum closets.
Enter University of Texas archaeologist David Stuart, one of the world’s leading experts on Maya script.
“I had all these boxes of notes and papers in my office, and I was never going to publish every little observation,” he said. “But I thought that if I had a blog, I could talk about new things and bring out some old stuff from my dusty files.”
So five years ago, Stuart started up Maya Decipherment, a blog for scholars and amateurs to post new inscriptions, refine translations and debate the subtleties of Maya language, all in an effort to fill out the history of the civilization.
The work will take years, but with the help of the Internet, the pace is quicker than it has ever been
Via David Connolly, Deanna Dahlsad