The Maya invented the
most advanced form of writing in the ancient Americas. They used
hieroglyphics. The Mayas used about 700 symbols or glyphs. A glyph is a
picture or a symbol used to represent a sound, a word, or perhaps a
the big stone slabs they built to tell the story of special occasions
and events. Hieroglyphics were used on temple walls and pillars. The
Mayas wrote everything down. If only we could read it all!
The Maya wrote books
about their gods, their leaders, their daily life, and their special
events. They were not like
the books we have today. Maya books were made of soft bark and were
folded like a fan. The reader had to unfold them to read them.
Books included drawings as well as glyphs. A book was called a codex.
When the Spanish
arrived, about 600 years after the Maya civilization had disappeared,
they found many Maya codices. The Spanish priests believed they had
found pictures of demons and devils. They burned the codices they found.
Much was destroyed, but fortunately, not everything.
Even today, scholars
have a tough time understanding the complicated written language of the
ancient Mayas. They can read 80% of the Maya writings they have found.
These writings have told us a great deal about ancient Maya religion,
government, and daily life.
the Maya Code