The Maya's

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  • 14 april 2015
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The Maya’s



This report is about the Maya’s. I chose this subject because I was interested to know more about it.



Research question



I was mostly interested in their script and their calendar, so my question is: For what did they use their calendar and what’s so special about their script?



A small source, the handbook



The Maya’s had the first script in America. They used hieroglyphics to write and counted with dots and stripes. The script was not deciphered until sixty years ago. They wrote about their nature gods, but also about the punishment for theft. Their calendar was based on astronomy.



The enormous internet information



After the Spanish conquered the living areas of the Maya’s, they burned almost all their documents en texts; only four of their books survived. That’s why it was so hard  to decipher their hieroglyphics. But after many years two Germans deciphered the hieroglyphics, counting system and calendar. In total, the Maya script has around 800 symbols. Nowadays we know 300 symbols, of 300 we have an idea what they mean and 200 are still a mystery.



The Maya’s had two calendars, a holy calendar with 260 days and a normal calendar of 365 days. The holy calendar has 13 months with all 20 days, and the long calendar has 18 months with all 20 days, and 1 extra month with 5 days, the misfortune bringing ‘nameless days’. Some people think that the Maya’s choose the number 260 because you can see Venus, their holy planet, 260 days as morning star and 260 days as evening star.



Instead of units like days, months, years or centuries, they had their own names, like the following table.




























Baktun



Katun



Tun



Uinal



Kin



144.000



7.200



360 



20 



1



Days



Days



Days



Days



  Day




They started counting from their holy year, the year of the birth of Venus: 3114 BC.



Comparing



I didn’t have really much information from the handbook so there was not much to compare, but one thing was different. In the handbook they said they deciphered the Mayan script 60 years ago, but on my internet site it was less than 50. That was not a really big difference. But on different internet sites there were some differences, like why they choose the number 260 or 365, or who deciphered the script. About similarities: both sources call the script a hieroglyphic script.



Question



My question is answered; the Mayan script was so famous because it was the first script in America and it is deciphered only 50-60 years ago! And we still don’t know what all of their symbols mean. And about their calendars, I did not know they had two and I was really surprised when I heard about their month of 5 days.



Conclusion



After this assignment I know much more about the Maya’s and their script and calendar. I think it was very useful to make this assignment. I think I did my best and I am happy with the end result.


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