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The Maya Codices

Gabrielle Vail
Annual Review of Anthropology
Vol. 35 (2006), pp. 497-519
Published by: Annual Reviews
Stable URL: http://www.jstor.org/stable/25064935
Page Count: 25
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Abstract

Research over the past decade has significantly advanced our understanding of the prehispanic Maya codices, both in terms of their content (i.e., hieroglyphic texts, calendrical structure, and iconography) as well as the physical documents themselves (where and when they were painted, and by whom). Recent avenues of exploration include a new emphasis on linguistic and textual analyses; novel methodologies for interpreting calendrical structure; and comparisons with other manuscript traditions, in particular those from highland central Mexico. As a result of these studies, researchers have found that some codical almanacs functioned as real-time instruments to document important astronomical events; others were used to schedule rituals as part of the 52-year calendar that guided civic and religious life in Mesoamerica during the Late Postclassic period (circa A.D. 1250 to 1520). Evidence of connections with central Mexico, documented in terms of interchange among codical scribes, suggests the need for a more thorough exploration of Maya-highland Mexican interaction during this time period.

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