The earliest known writing in the Mayan script dates from about BC, but the script is thought to have developed at an earlier date. Recent archeological finds indicate that the Mayan civilisation started much earlier: In aboutthe first bishop of Yucatan, Diego de Landa, compiled a key to the Mayan syllabary consisting of 27 Spanish letters and the Mayan glyphs with similar sounds.
Most scholars accepted the theory that the Mayan writing system was entirely logographic—that is, that each glyph, or sign, represented an entire word. In addition, it was widely believed that the Mayan inscriptions were largely religious in character. During the s the linguist Yury Knorozov demonstrated that Mayan writing was phonetic as well as hieroglyphic.
In Heinrich Berlin established that a certain category of glyphs referred either to places or to the ruling families associated with those places. Two years later Tatiana Prouskouriakoff established that the inscriptions were primarily historical: The work of these three scholars constituted a revolution in Mayan studies, and in succeeding decades the decipherment of the writing proceeded at an accelerating rate.
The Mayan writing system is complex: In addition, different signs may share phonetic or logographic values.
In some cases scholars understand the meaning of a logographic sign but have not determined its reading—i.
Nevertheless, by the early 21st century scholars had read a substantial number of inscriptions, affording much new information about Mayan languagehistory, social and political organization, and ritual life, as well as a completely different picture of Mayan civilization than had been previously proposed.
Only four Mayan codices are known to survive: The codices were made of fig-bark paper folded like an accordion; their covers were of jaguar skin. Learn More in these related Britannica articles:History >> Ancient Mesopotamia The Sumerians developed the first form of writing.
As Sumerian towns grew into cities, the people needed a way to keep track of business transactions, ownership rights, and government records. in Egypt, Mesopotamia, and Mesoamerica STEPHEN HOUSTON Brigham Young University JOHN BAINES the comparative literature on writing systems takes little notice of Today, Egyptian hieroglyphic writing, Mesopotamian cuneiform, and Mayan glyphs, the scripts under review here, persist only in the sense that modern specialists teach them in.
The ancient Near East boasts the oldest, and some of the longest-lived, writing systems known. Writing was invented in southern Mesopotamia (Sumer) .
The Maya, or Mayan, peoples made their home in an area known as Mesoamerica (modern-day Mexico and Central America).
Mayan culture was well established by BCE, and it lasted until CE. All Maya shared a common culture and religion, but each city governed itself and had its own noble ruler. Literature (from the Latin Littera meaning 'letters’ and referring to an acquaintance with the written word) is the written work of a specific culture, sub-culture, religion, philosophy or the study of such written work which may appear in poetry or in prose.
Literature, in the west, originated in the southern Mesopotamia region of Sumer (c. ) in the city . The early explorers of the Mayan sites, Writing & Literature. The myths of the people of Mesopotamia, the stories of their gods and heroes, their history, their methods of building, of burying their dead, of celebrating feast days, were now all able to be recorded for posterity.