A System of Writing, Maya Glyphs Illustration

Maya Empire for Kids
System of Writing


The Maya created a written language. They created books about their gods, leaders, major happenings, and daily life. These books were made of soft bark and folded like a fan. A codex is the name of a Maya book.

The Maya used both pictures and symbols to write in their books. The pictures were drawings, and they symbols were hieroglyphics. Maya hieroglyphics are often referred to as "glyphs" for short. The Maya had about 800 symbols. Archaeologists have figured out what many of the symbols mean, but not all of them.

About 600 years after the Maya deserted their cities, the Spanish arrived in the area. The Spanish found many Maya books. The Spanish priests took one look at the drawings of what they believed were devils and hideous monsters, and burned every codex they found. Fortunately, they missed some.

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