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Mayan writing consisted of a relatively elaborate set of glyphs, which were laboriously painted on ceramics, walls or bark-paper codices, carved in wood or stone, or molded in stucco. Carved and molded glyphs were painted, but the paint has rarely survived. About 90% of Mayan writing can now be read with varying degrees of certainty, enough to give a comprehensive idea of its structure.
The Mayan script was a logosyllabic system. Individual symbols ("glyphs") could represent either a word (actually a morpheme) or a syllable; indeed, the same glyph could often be used for both. For example, the calendaric glyph MANIK’ was also used to represent the syllable chi. (It is customary to write logographic readings in all capitals and phonetic readings in italics.) It is possible, but not certain, that these conflicting readings arose as the script was adapted to new languages, as also happened with Japanese kanji and with Assyro-Babylonian and Hittite cuneiform. There was ambiguity in the other direction as well: Different glyphs could be read the same way. For example, half a dozen apparently unrelated glyphs were used to write the very common third person pronoun u-.
The most ancient text that presents the total set of characteristic traits of Maya writing is preserved in Stela 29 of Tikal, dated 292 AD. Glyphic texts documented the lives of Rulers: their births, accessions to the throne, marriages, wars, burials and other important facts about a Ruler’s story.Hieroglyphic writing is composed of signs for ideographs, which are units of meaning, words, or parts of compound words; and of syllables, which are units of sound.
A stele (pron.: /ˈstiːliː/, historically /ˈstiːl/; Greek: στήλη stēlē; plural: στήλαι stēlai), also stela (plural stelae /ˈstiːlaɪ/) Latin, is a stone or wooden slab, generally taller than it is wide, erected for funerals or commemorative purposes, most usually decorated with the names and titles of the deceased or living — inscribed, carved in relief (bas-relief, sunken-relief, high-relief, and so forth), or painted onto the slab. It can also be used as a territorial marker to delineate land ownership.
Stelae were also used to publish laws and decrees, to record a ruler's exploits and honors, to mark sacred territories or mortgaged properties, as territorial markers, as the boundary stelae of Akhenaton at Amarna, or to commemorate military victories. They were widely used in the Ancient Near East, Mesopotamia, Greece, Egypt, Eritrea, Ethiopia, and, most likely independently, in China and elsewhere in the Far East, and, more surely independently, by Mesoamerican civilisations, notably the Olmec and Maya
Stela 29 bears a Long Count (184.108.40.206.15) date equivalent to AD 292, the earliest surviving Long Count date from the Maya lowlands. The stela is also the earliest monument to bear the Tikal emblem glyph. It bears a sculpture of the king facing to the right, holding the head of an underworld jaguar god, one of the patron deities of the city. The stela was deliberately smashed during the 6th century or some time later, the upper portion was dragged away and dumped in a rubbish tip close to Temple III, to be uncovered by archaeologists in 1959
Stela 31 is the accession monument of Siyaj Chan K'awiil II, also bearing two portraits of his father, Yax Nuun Ayiin, as a youth dressed as a Teotihuacan warrior. He carries a spearthrower in one hand and bears a shield decorated with the face of Tlaloc, the Teotihuacan war god. In ancient times the sculpture was broken and the upper portion was moved to the summit of Temple 33 and ritually buried. Stela 31 has been described as the greatest Early Classic sculpture to survive at Tikal. A long hieroglyphic text is carved onto the back of the monument, the longest to survive from the Early Classic, which describes the arrival of Siyah K'ak' at El Peru and Tikal in January 378. It was also the first stela as Tikal to be carved on all four faces.
It had been broken in two by burning and the upper half, seen here, placed within semi-demolished Str 5D 33 2nd(site) during construction of 33 1st(site). This is why it is less weathered than most Tikal stelae. The rear face retains traces of red paint.
This top piece we see here may have been placed within 33 1st by Jasaw Chan K'awiil, either after his accession to power in 682, or after his defeat of Calakmul in 695. Possibly this could be seen as a type of cache.
The ruler depicted here may have been named Siyaj Chan K'awiil according to a recent phonetic reading of his name glyphs (Simon Martin). These glyphs earlier yielded the name "Stormy Sky", based on their imagery. He was a particularly powerful and succesful ruler, possibly backed in some way by the might of Teotihuacan.
Siyaj Chan may have presided over a period of political supremacy for Tikal in the first half of the fifth century. This fragment of his stela may have been placed within the fabric of 33 1st as a kind of icon carrying power to accomplish the same thing in the 8th century.
Stela 4 is dated to AD 396, during the reign of Yax Nuun Ayiin after the intrusion of Teotihuacan in the Maya area. The stela displays a mix of Maya and Teotihuacan qualities, and deities from both cultures. It has a portrait of the king with the Underworld Jaguar God under one arm and the Mexican Tlaloc under the other. His helmet is a simplified version of the Teotihuacan War Serpent. Unusually for Maya sculpture, but typically for Teotihuacan, Yax Nuun Ayiin is depicted with a frontal face, rather than in profile.
He(Yax Nuun Ayiin I) took the throne of Tikal on 13 September 379, soon after the death of previous king Chak Tok Ich'aak I, apparently killed by the Teotihuacano conquerors.
Yax Nuun Ayiin was a son of Spearthrower Owl, a lord of Teotihuacan (probably that city's king) in central Mexico. The installation of a Teotihuacano noble on the throne of Tikal marks a high point of Teotihuacan influence in the central Maya lowlands.
Originally posted by sapien82
(snip)or were these sites much older and lost for much longer than we are led to believe !
Originally posted by woodwardjnr
As a Star Wars fan I was more excited about seeing the location of the rebel base than all the Mayan artefacts, but that's just me.