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CODICES MAYAS

Introduccion
The Maya developed a sophisticated writing system many centuries before their first contact
with Europeans in the sixteenth century. In what are now southeastern Mexico, Belize,
Guatemala, and portions of Honduras and El Salvador, the Maya wrote using a system of
hieroglyphs instead of an alphabet. They carved, sculpted, and painted texts in many places:
the facades of buildings, stone monuments (stelae), wooden objects, and pottery vessels; they
even tattooed their bodies with hieroglyphs. They also made books that today are known as
codices. There probably were hundreds of codices at one time but most were destroyed
during attempts to convert the Maya to Christianity.
La palabra "cdice" se refiere a un volumen manuscrito. El nombre se deriva etimolgicamente
del latn "caudex" que significa tronco de rbol, lpida de madera, libro, cdigo de leyes (Oxford
English Dictionary, CD-ROM versin 3.0, 2002). El trmino ha sido aplicado a los libros escritos a
mano de Mesoamrica.
Sobrevivieron solo tres codices
The Madrid Codex is the longest, measuring approximately 22 feet in length. It consists of 56
leaves painted on both sides, or 112 pages. The Dresden Codex contains 74 pages, whereas the
Paris and Grolier codices are much smaller (24 and 10 pages, respectively). They are believed to
be fragments of what were once longer screenfolds.
The hieroglyphic texts recorded in the codices are written in the script used throughout the
lowland Maya area from the 2nd century A.D. to the 15th century. This area was occupied by
Yucatec and Cholan-speaking populations at the time of Spanish contact in the early 16th
century.

Map showing distribution of Mayan languages. After V. Bricker (1986:Fig. 1).

Materiales
The Maya codices are screenfold books painted on paper made from the bark of the fig tree.
They were produced by coating the paper with a stucco wash and then painting it with glyphs
and pictures.
(wikipedia) Los mayas desarrollaron su papel en una era relativamente temprana, hay pruebas
arqueolgicas del uso de cortezas desde inicios del siglo V. Ellos lo llamaban huun.
[...] Tempranamente en su historia, los mayas produjeron una clase de manto de la parte
interna de la corteza de ciertos rboles, principalmente del higo salvaje o amate, y del
matapalo, otro ficus. A partir de sta y con cal ellos formaban papel, cundo ocurri, lo
desconocemos. El papel inventado por los mayas, era superior en textura, durabilidad y
plasticidad al papiro Egipcio.
Sandstrom and Sandstrom, Traditional Papermaking

Durante aos se pens que los cdices haban sido hechos de fibra de maguey, pero en 1910 R.
Schwede determin que fueron hechos mediante un proceso que usaba la corteza interna de
una variedad del rbol del higo, mejor conocido como amate; entonces esto se trataba con una
capa de cal (o algo parecido a la cal) sobre la superficie, sobre las cuales se escribi con pinceles
y tinta. La tinta negra era carbn negro de holln, los rojos fueron hechos de hematita (xido
frrico), azules maravillosos y luminosos (azul maya) y tambin haba verdes y amarillos. Los
cdices se escribieron en tiras largas de este papel y se doblaron en forma de acorden. Las
pginas medan cerca de 4 por 9 pulgadas o 10 por 23 cm.

Madrid CODICE
The Madrid Codex was discovered in Spain during the 19th century, having presumably been
sent to Europe during the Spanish Colonial period and subsequently forgotten. It was found in
two parts, which had become separated at some unknown point in the past. One section (the
Troano) came to public attention in 1866 and the second (the Cortesianus) several years later.
The two were first recognized as belonging to the same manuscript by the Americanist scholar
Lon de Rosny in the early 1880s. A detailed discussion of the early history of the Codex "TroCortesianus" may be found in Paz Cabello C. (1986).

Dresden and Paris codices


The Dresden and Paris codices, also named after the cities where they are housed, were
discovered in European collections in the 18th and 19th centuries.

(LU ACA TENES Q PONER TU INFO DE WIKIPEDIA, DE COMO FUERON RECUPERADOS, CUANDO Y
DONDE ESTAN AHORA, EN Q MUSEO! Y AGREGA UN RESUMEN DE ESO A LA PARTE QUE TE
DEJO DE POWER POINT)

Grolier Codex
el Cdice de Grolier se dio a conocer en 1971. Se dijo que este cuarto cdice maya fue
encontrado en una cueva en la sierra de Chiapas en 1965; perteneci al doctor Jos Senz, quien
se los mostr al mayista Michael Coe en el club Grolier de Nueva York, por lo cual se le conoce
con este nombre. Es un fragmento de 11 pginas muy mal conservado, y se ha determinado que
debi pertenecer a un libro con 20 pginas. Cada pgina mide 18 cm de alto por 12.5 cm de
ancho. Por medio de radiocarbono se ha calculado que se fabric en 1230 d. C. +/- 130 aos. A
pesar de esto, la autenticidad del cdice, y ms particularmente de su escritura, queda
controvertida.

Actualmente est guardado en un museo de Mxico, pero no expuesto al pblico. En Internet


pueden encontrarse fotografas escaneadas del cdice. Las pginas son mucho menos detalladas
que las de los otros cdices. En cada pgina siempre se encuentra la figura de un personaje
mirando hacia el lado izquierdo de la pgina e invariablemente sosteniendo un arma o algn
instrumento. Arriba de cada pgina hay un nmero. En la parte inferior parece haber una lista de
fechas.
Hay discrepancias entre los estudiosos, pues muchos consideran que se trata de una falsificacin
y otros lo consideran un cuarto cdice maya. A pesar de que se ha calculado la datacin por
radiocarbono, que ubica una posible fecha de elaboracin en el siglo XII, se duda de su
autenticidad por el hecho de que est escrito solo en el anverso de las pginas, lo cual discrepa de
los otros cdices. Eric Thompson, afirmo que si bien la datacin corresponde a la fecha de
elaboracin de la pagina, no se corresponde con la fecha en que fue escrito.
La doctora Laura Elena Sotelo, especialista en cdices mayas del Centro de Estudios Mayas del
Instituto de Investigaciones Antropolgicas de la UNAM, ha estudiado el Grolier y declar que
"las evidencias apuntan a que est hecho en 1960, aunque an existen controversias al respecto".8

Contenidos generales
The surviving Maya hieroglyphic codices are primarily concerned with ritual and astronomical
matters. This information is presented in one of two formatstables containing dates in the
Maya Long Count calendar, which places events in absolute time, and almanacs organized in
terms of the 260-day ritual calendar used throughout Mesoamerica for divination and
prophecy. Both types of instruments combine hieroglyphic captions with pictures that refer to
specific days, either within the ritual calendar or the Long Count.

The rain god Chak and the female deity Chak Chel producing rain from clay jars (Madrid 30a).
Drawing after Villacorta C. and Villacorta (1976:284).

The Madrid Codex contains approximately 250 almanacs that are grouped thematically into
sections concerned with the deity Chaak and rain ceremonies (see illustration above); planting
and agriculture; ceremonies marking the end of one year and the start of the next (measured in
terms of a 365-day period known as the haab'); deer hunting and trapping; the capture and
sacrifice of prisoners and other events associated with the five nameless days (Wayeb) at the
end of the year; carving deity images; and beekeeping (see figure below). The focus of the
manuscript, therefore, seems to be concerned with a series of activities that constitute the
yearly round, as well as the rituals accompanying these events. Although some almanacs were
probably used for divination within the 260-day ritual calendar, recent research by Victoria and
Harvey Bricker, Gabrielle Vail, and others suggests that many almanacs referred to events that
encompassed much longer periods of time, including a 52-year period known as the Calendar
Round.

A ceremony performed when bees are moved to new hives (Madrid 111b). Drawing after
Villacorta C. and Villacorta (1976:446).
Like the Madrid Codex, the Dresden and Paris codices also contain a number of almanacs
structured according to the 260-day tzolk'in calendar. Almanacs represent only one component
of the Dresden Codex, however, which is unique in terms of the Maya codices in having
astronomical tables that include Long Count dates. (The Long Count system of dating is
commonly used on Classic period monuments to anchor historical events that are centered
around the lives of the ruling family in time.) These tables were designed to track solar and
lunar eclipses; the appearance and disappearance of Venus in the night sky; and the positioning
of Mars against the constellations. Astronomical instruments occur in both the Paris and Grolier
codices as well. A series of thirteen constellations representing the Maya zodiac appears on
pages 23-24 of the Paris Codex (illustrated below), and the Grolier Codex contains an
incomplete almanac that has many similarities to the Dresden Venus table.

The Maya zodiac on pages 23-24 of the Paris Codex. Most of the constellations are
represented by animals, including birds, a scorpion, a turtle, and a rattlesnake. Drawing after
Villacorta C. and Villacorta (1976:220, 222).
Although the Madrid Codex lacks astronomical tables with Long Count dates, it has a number of
almanacs that reference astronomical events, including the movement of Mars; solar and lunar
eclipses; and seasonal phenomena such as the summer solstice and the spring equinox. These
astronomical references occur within the context of almanacs that are structured according to
the 260-day tzolk'in. Research by the Brickers and their colleagues suggests that many of these
events can be placed into real or absolute time. A detailed discussion of the calendrical
structure of Maya almanacs may be found in the sections Maya Dates and Calendars and Maya
Almanacs.

Fechas Mayas y Calendarios


One of the earliest advances in decipherment were made in terms of interpreting dates
recorded in Maya texts. Like other Mesoamerican cultures, the Maya used several independent
but overlapping calendars to track time. The first, which is based on a 260-day repeating cycle
known as the tzolk'in, functioned primarily as a mechanism for divination and prophecy. A
second calendar, the haab', is 365 days in length and is based on the solar year. The two were
used concurrently and together created a 52-year cycle. Throughout much of Mesoamerica, the
beginning of this 52-year period was celebrated with a number of rituals, including the
extinguishing of old fires, the lighting of new fires, the dedication of new temples, and other
renovation or renewal ceremonies.

The tzolk'in, or count of days, plays a significant role in the Maya codices. It consists of 20
named days, represented by the glyphs seen below, and a number (or coefficient) ranging from
1 to 13. Each day may be paired with each coefficient, resulting in a 260-day repeating cycle
that begins with the first coefficient (1) and the first day name (Imix). The next day would be 2
Ik, followed by 3 Akbal, 4 Kan, 5 Chikchan, 6 Kimi, 7 Manik, 8 Lamat, 9 Muluk, 10 Ok, 11
Chuwen, 12 Eb, and 13 Ben. Since there are no coefficients above 13, the day following 13
Ben is 1 Ix, followed by 2 Men, 3 Kib, etc. The last day in the cycle is 13 Ahaw (day 260), after
which it starts over again with 1 Imix.
Some of the day glyphs had more than one variant, as can be seen from the illustration
(examples include Kimi and Kawak).

Days of the Maya tzolk'in.


The haab' is composed of 18 months of 20 days
(represented by the glyphs seen below) and a final month of
five days, known as Wayeb. This creates a period of 365
days, which approximates the seasonal or tropical year of
365.2422 days. The days of the haab' were counted in much
the same way as we count the days of our months, except
that they were numbered from 0 to 19 during the Classic
period and from 1 to 20 during the Late Postclassic and
Colonial periods. During the Classic period, the first day of
the year corresponded to 0 Pop; this was followed by 1 Pop,
2 Pop, 3 Pop, and so on to the last day of the month (19
Pop). The next month began on 0 Wo,
followed by 1 Wo, 2 Wo, etc. The last day of
the year corresponded to 4 Wayeb.

Months of the Maya haab'.


This is the interpretation of the haab' that
we follow, but not all epigraphers (those
who study Maya hieroglyphic writing)
would agree with this analysis. Rather,
some believe that the seating of a month
(indicated by 0 in the preceding
paragraph) refers to the twentieth day of
the preceding month rather than to the first
day of a new month. This interpretation is

challenged in a paper presented by Victoria Bricker in 1989 in which she provided compelling
evidence in support of the interpretation discussed here.
The tzolk'in and the haab' were combined to create a 52-year period known as the Calendar
Round. A Calendar Round designation consists of a tzolk'in date followed by a haab' datefor
example, 1 Ahaw 3 Pop. To reach the next date in the series, one moves forward one position in
the tzolk'in (to 2 Imix) and one position in the haab'(to 4 Pop). This combination of dates will
not occur again until 18,980 days, or 52 years, have passed.
Because of the way the two calendars are structured, only four of the 20 named days can
correspond with any particular haab' date. The four days that co-occur with the first day of
each year (0 Pop during the Classic period and 1 Pop during the Late Postclassic period) are
known as yearbearers. At least three different calendars (incorporating different yearbearer
sets) were used in the Maya area at different times in the past. The Classic set pairs the days Ik,
Manik, Eb, and Kaban with 0 Pop (i.e., 1 Ik 0 Pop is followed one year later by 2 Manik 0 Pop;
the following year begins on 3 Eb 0 Pop, and the year after that on 4 Kaban 0 Pop). This is the
set that occurs in the Dresden Codex; it may be seen, for example, in the yearbearer almanac
on pages 25-28. Another set, known as the Puuc or Campeche yearbearers after the area of the
Yucatn peninsula where it was first identified, is based on the days Akbal, Ben, Lamat, and
Etznab. A third yearbearer set, named after the site of Mayapn, involves a shift to the days
Kan, Muluk, Ix, and Kawak, which are paired with 1, rather than 0, Pop. This system came
about by delaying New Years day in the Classic period calendar by two days and renaming it 1
Pop. Although the three sets can be seriated chronologically to some extent, they overlap in use
at certain sites and certain points in time. Both the Mayapn and Classic period set are
represented in the Madrid Codexthe Mayapn yearbearers are featured in the almanacs on
Madrid 24c-25c and 34-37, for example, whereas the Classic period set is represented in the
almanacs on Madrid 65-73b and Madrid 99b-100b.
In addition to these calendrical cycles, the Maya also made use of a calendar known as the Long
Count, which places dates in linear rather than cyclical time. The Long Count calendar was
established during the Preclassic era, perhaps by the Olmec, and appears to have been
astronomically motivated. The beginning of the current era (August 11, 3114 B.C.) may be
linked to a solar zenith passage in the southern Maya area, whereas the end of the era
(December 21, A.D. 2012) corresponds to the date of a winter solstice. Although not all
Mayanists agree on the best means of correlating the Maya and Christian calendars, the two
solutions preferred by most epigraphers today differ from each other by only two days. An
overview of the correlation question may be found in The Ancient Maya by Robert Sharer.
The Long Count is based on units of 20, rather than 10 as we use, and is organized as follows:
The smallest unit is the kin, which is equivalent to one day. A winal is equal to 20 kins, or 20
days. Rather than consisting of 20 winals, the tun deviates from this system; it is equal to 18
winals, or 360 days, which is a close approximation of the length of the solar year. Katuns are
equal to 20 tuns, or 7200 days (just short of 20 years), whereas baktuns equal 20 katuns
(144,000 days), which is almost 400 years in length.

Four symbols are used in the Maya codices to represent the numerals: a shell sign for zero; a
dot for one; a bar for five; and a moon sign for 20 (see Figure a below). Numbers from 1-19 may
be formed by combining bars and dots as necessary. For larger numbers, however, this system
becomes impractical, and positional notation is used instead. Long Count dates in the codices
are represented in this manner (Figure b), with the smallest unit (the kin) appearing at the
bottom of the column. A different system of notation is used in the monumental inscriptions,
where the units of time (baktun, katun, etc.) are represented by period glyphs. These glyphs
may be either symbolic (geometric) in form or expressed by head variants. In either case, the
coefficient is attached directly to the period glyph, as opposed to the system used in the
codices which relies strictly on place-value notation (Figure c).

Epigraphers have developed a shorthand convention for writing Long Count dates, which is
similar to the abbreviations we use to write dates (e.g., 2/22/01). An example involves the date
represented in Figure b, which would be transcribed as 9.5.15.0.2 (with 9 representing the
number of baktuns, 5 the number of katuns, 15 the number of tuns , etc.). This corresponds
to April 17, A.D. 549 in the Western calendar.

The Long Count is based on a cycle of 13 baktuns (or 5125 years), which is more than sufficient
to account for any event within the recorded history of Maya culture. Long Count dates are
generally accompanied by a Calendar Round permutation. For the example given previously
(i.e., 9.5.15.0.2), the corresponding Calendar Round date would be 5 Ik 5 Wo. Each Long Count
date may be associated with one and only one Calendar Round date, although the reverse is
not true. The combination of the two defines a date absolutely with reference to a mythological
starting date. This date is 13.0.0.0.0 4 Ahaw 8 Kumku, or August 11, 3114 B.C. according to the
correlation that we use. (The other common correlation places 4 Ahaw 8 Kumku on August 13,
3114 B.C.).

Almanaques mayas
Information in the Maya codices is formatted in one of two wayswhat epigraphers call tables
and almanacs. The two may be distinguished in that tables contain dates in the Long Count
calendar, whereas almanacs generally only record tzolk'in dates (see Glossary for a definition of
terms). The Madrid Codex is composed entirely of almanacs, meaning that there are no Long
Count dates in the manuscript that allow it to be placed in absolute time. This is in contrast to
the Dresden Codex, which contains a series of tables referencing astronomical events such as
eclipse cycles and the appearance and disappearance of Venus in the sky, as well as seasonal
cycles (solstices and equinoxes). For an agriculturally-based society like the Maya, tracking
seasonal events was extremely important.
Although Long Count dates are not found in the Madrid Codex, seasonal and astronomical
references occur in a number of almanacs. These data can, according to a methodology
developed by Victoria and Harvey Bricker, be used to date the almanacs containing these types
of references in real or absolute time. Their model of how almanacs functioned differs
significantly from the traditional interpretation of almanacs as instruments for divination and
prophecy within the tzolk'in calendar that remain unanchored in real time. Another model,
recently formulated by Gabrielle Vail, provides a further challenge to the traditional
interpretation of the structure and function of codical almanacs.
The majority of almanacs in the Maya codices have a similar format. They are divided into a
series of frames, which generally include a hieroglyphic caption, bar-and-dot numbers, and a
picture. The initial date of an almanac is determined by the column of day glyphs to the left of
the frames. It includes a bar-and-dot coefficient which applies to each of the day glyphs in the
column below it. Each of these dates represents the start of a new row of dates associated with
the almanac.

Most almanacs have either four, five, or ten day glyphs in the introductory column. Because
they are based on a 260-day period, the first type may be said to have a 4 x 65-day structure;
the next to have a 5 x 52-day structure; and the last to have a 10 x 26-day structure. The first
number refers to how many day glyphs are in the introductory column, and the second to the
total reached by summing the black bar-and-dot numbers associated with each frame. The
black numbers specify distance numbers or intervals, and the red numbers (represented by an
outline in black and white drawings) are coefficients associated with day names.
The calendrical information contained in an almanac appears in a very abbreviated form. The
only information given explicitly consists of the initial dates in each row (which appear in the
tzolk'in column at the beginning of the almanac). Together with the distance numbers and
coefficients, this information allows the reader to determine the complete calendrical structure
of an almanac.

Almanac on Madrid 16a. After Anders (1967). Courtesy of the Museo de Amrica, Madrid.
The almanac on Madrid 16a illustrated above begins on the tzolk'in date 4 Ahaw (uppermost in
the tzolk'in column), which is associated with the picture and text in the first frame. One then
adds 15 days, as indicated by the first distance number (in black), to arrive at the date
associated with the second frame (which consists of text without a picture). Adding 15 to 4
results in 19; because the days of the tzolk'in cannot be numbered above 13, this number (13)
must be subtracted from 19 to arrive at the correct coefficient6 (Men). The 6 is recorded in
the almanac (following the black 15), whereas the day glyph (Men) is calculated by counting
forward 15 days from Ahaw. Ten days are then added to reach the date associated with the
almanacs third frame, 3 (Chikchan). Adding the next distance number, 11, brings one to the
date associated with the almanacs fourth frame, 1 (Kib). This completes the first row of dates
for the almanac. By adding the 16 indicated in the fourth frame (mistakenly drawn as an 11),
one returns to the second day glyph in the initial tzolk'in column4 Eb. This date is associated
with the almanacs first frame, at the start of the second row. By continuing through all five
rows of the almanac, a total of 260 days, or one tzolk'in cycle, is reached. Here is the complete
structure:
4 + 15
Ahaw
Eb
Kan
Kib
Lamat

6 + 10
Men
Manik
Kawak
Chuwen
Akbal

3 + 11
Chikchan
Kaban
Muluk
Imix
Ben

1 + 16
Kib
Lamat
Ahaw
Eb
Kan

How did Maya daykeepers use almanacs such as this one? According to the traditional
interpretation, each of an almanacs frames is associated with a series of dates in the 260-day
calendar that can be used for determining an appropriate day for the activity represented in
that almanac. The almanac on Madrid 23c (see below), for example, includes three frames, two
with pictures and one (frame 2) without. All three frames are associated with the activity of
painting structures blue; this is performed by the creator Itzamna (frame 1); the death god Kimil
(frame 2), and the rain deity Chaak (frame 3). According to the traditional model, 4 Ahaw, 4 Eb,

4 Kan, 4 Kib, and 4 Lamat are considered good days for this activity, since they are associated
with the frame picturing Itzamna and the text caption Itzamna, first *or honored+ flower.
Twenty days later, however, the days 11 Ahaw, 11 Eb, 11 Kan, 11 Kib, and 11 Lamat
corresponding with the second frame represent bad days for painting structures, since they are
linked to a clause that names the death god Kimil, the dead person. The dates in the last
frame are again considered propitious, as they concern the rain deity Chaak, who had
extremely positive associations.

Almanac on Madrid 23c. After Anders (1967). Courtesy of the Museo de Amrica, Madrid.
4 + 20
Ahaw
Eb
Kan
Kib
Lamat

11 + 17
Ahaw
Eb
Kan
Kib
Lamat

2 + 15
Kaban
Muluk
Imix
Ben
Chikchan

An alternate way of interpreting almanacs such as this one that include a series of frames with
repetitive iconography (i.e., in which the activity remains the same but the deity changes) is
proposed by Vail. She points out that the traditional model fails to take into account the fact
that the use of blue paint to consecrate a house or structure has specific ritual correlates
described in Bishop Landas account Relacin de las cosas de Yucatan (written in the 1560s). A
careful reading of Landas text suggests that blue paint was associated with ceremonies
celebrated in conjunction with the 365-day haab', rather than with the tzolk'in calendar. This
suggests to Vail that this almanac, as well as a number of other 5 x 52-day almanacs with similar
iconography in each frame, refers to the repetition of haab' rituals over the course of a 52-year
Calendar Round cycle. Codical almanacs such as those illustrated above, therefore, allowed
Maya priests or daykeepers to schedule the same haab' ritual for a series of years over the
course of a 52-year period. For more information about how this was accomplished, Vail (2002,
2004) offers a detailed discussion.
Support for Vails model is provided by references to haab' dates that occur in several almanacs
in the Madrid Codex. These dates not only provide empirical evidence of the utility of this

proposal, but they also suggest the importance that Maya scribes attached to anchoring at least
certain events to cycles of time beyond the 260-day tzolk'in. In a recent publication, Vail and
Victoria Bricker discuss other haab' dates that have been identified in several Madrid almanacs,
including Madrid 34-37 and Madrid 65-73b.
Following Vails model, almanacs in the Maya codices may be grouped into two setsthose
that picture the repetition of the same activity from frame to frame, which may be interpreted
as Calendar Round (52-year) instruments, and those that show a sequence or progression of
activities that seem to occur within the time frame of a single or double tzolk'in (260-day)
cycle. The almanac on Dresden 40c-41c, for example, pictures Chaak in various locations, as
specified in the glyphic text. These include the water (frame 1), a maize field (frame 2), the sky
(frame 3), etc. Note that each of these pictures is separated from the one that follows by an
interval of ten days (represented by the black bar-and-dot numbers in the illustration below).

Almanac on Dresden 40c-41c. After Frstemann (1880).


Not all almanacs in the Maya codices are formatted in terms of an initial column of tzolk'in
dates followed by discrete frames associated with a single distance number and coefficient.
Three other structural types occur fairly commonly in the Madrid Codexcircular, crossover,
and in extenso almanacs. Circular almanacs generally include a central picture with a series of
distance numbers and coefficients placed around the image. In the example illustrated here,
what would be presented as five separate frames in a more standard almanac format are
reduced to one picture and four abbreviated hieroglyphic captions referring to the world
directions.

Circular almanac on Madrid 51a. Drawing after Villacorta C. and Villacorta (1976:326).
Crossover almanacs resemble the more standard almanac format, except that each of the two
frames is associated with a series of distance numbers and coefficients. These are read back
and forth, generally beginning in the upper left (i.e., from frame 1, to frame 2, back to frame 1,
etc.). Crossover almanacs are less common than circular almanacs in the Madrid Codex. Both
types occur only very rarely in the other Maya codices, although they are also found in the
central Mexican codices of the Borgia group.

Crossover almanac on Madrid 103a. Drawing after Villacorta C. and Villacorta (1976:430).
In extenso almanacs have only recently been recognized as a significant structural type within
the Madrid Codex. The Latin phrase in extenso refers to almanacs that explicitly depict all 260
days of the ritual calendar rather than highlighting only certain ones. In 1961, Anton Nowotny
coined the term in extenso to describe a subset of such almanacs in the central Mexican Borgia

group codices. As Nowotny defined them, Mexican almanacs recording 260 days occur in both
a rectangular and tabular format. The in extenso type refers to almanacs that have a
rectangular layout of five rows of 52 day signs (5 x 52 days = 260 days). Bryan Just discusses
examples of similar almanacs in the Madrid Codex, found on pages 12b-18b, 65-73b, 75-76, and
77-78. They display a variety of formats. The first, on Madrid 12b-18b, can be compared to the
almanac found on pages 1-8 of the Borgia Codex, whereas Madrid 75-76 has long been
recognized as cognate with the almanac on page 1 of the Codex Fejrvry-Mayer from the
Borgia group. Structural and calendrical correspondences among the Maya and central
Mexican codices raise a number of interesting questions about scribal interaction across
cultural boundaries during the Late Postclassic period in Mesoamerica.

PRIMEROS INTERESES POR LOS CODICES


The time period most relevant to a study of the Maya codices is the Late Postclassic and
subsequent conquest era (c. A.D. 1200-1540). By the beginning of the Late Postclassic period,
Maya society had undergone significant changes resulting from the abandonment of Classic
period centers in the Maya heartland (the Petn region of Guatemala) in the 9th century,
followed by the collapse of cities in the northern area, including Chichn Itz, between A.D.
900-1000. Large-scale architectural activity apparently ceased for more than a century, reemerging with the construction of Mayapn and a series of centers along the Caribbean and
southern Gulf coasts in the 12th century (see map below). Mayapns occupation has been
dated from c. A.D. 1200 to 1441, but a series of smaller centers, including Tulum on the
Caribbean coast and sites on the island of Cozumel, were still inhabited when the Spanish first
encountered the Maya in the early 16th century.

Map of the Maya area. After Henderson (1981:Map 3).


Despite the superior weaponry of the Europeans, the Maya proved difficult for the Spanish to
conquer. The conquest of the Yucatn peninsula spanned almost 20 years (from 1527 to 1546),
and the Itzaj Maya capital of Ta Itz (or Tayasal, as it was known to the Spanish) was not
conquered until 1697. Subjugating the Maya of Tayasal was especially challenging for the
Spanish armies because of their remote location on an island in Lake Petn Itz in the heart of
the Petn in present-day Guatemala.
We know from Spanish sources, principally Diego de Landa, the second Bishop of Yucatn, that
codices were being written at the time of the conquest. Moreover, despite the efforts of
Bishop Landa and the Inquisition to destroy all traces of idolatry (including hieroglyphic writing),
codices were still secretly being used for several generations after the conquest.
The Spanish chroniclers provide several early descriptions of Maya books. The first appears to
have been written by Peter Martyr in 1520 and concerns the Royal Fifth sent by Hernan Corts
to the Spanish king Charles V from Veracruz, Mexico. (Martyr was a historian based in
Valladolid, Spain who was on the receiving end of shipments sent from the Americas.) On the
basis of his description, Eric Thompson was of the opinion that Martyr saw and described
Maya books. Michael Coe suggests that these were the same codices that Corts collected on
Cozumel in 1519, as reported in Martyrs account.

Other first-hand descriptions of Maya codices from 16th and early 17th century Yucatn include
those written by Landa as well as other Spanish chroniclers. Later accounts include those of
Avendao y Loyola. Writing at the end of the 17th century, he describes bark paper books
containing native calendars and prophecies in terms suggesting that he saw them first-hand: ...
I had already read about it in their old papers and had seen it in their anahtes which they use,
which are books of the barks of trees, polished and covered with lime, in which by painted
figures and characters, they have foretold their future events.
Hieroglyphic manuscripts were not limited in their distribution to the northern lowlands during
the Colonial period. Several, for example, were found at Tayasal following its defeat to the
Spanish in 1697. Reports indicate that some of these were taken by Ursua, the captain of the
Spanish forces, although their present whereabouts are unknown. Divinatory almanacs were
still being used by the Quich of highland Guatemala during this time period as well, as
suggested by the writings of Francisco Ximnez, who described books with divinatory calendars
with signs corresponding to each day. According to Dennis Tedlock, these books may have
been similar to the Ajilabal Qij (Count of Days), a Quich manuscript dated to 1722 that
contains alphabetic versions of 260-day almanacs like those found in the surviving Maya
hieroglyphic codices.

CUANDO Y DONDE FUERON ESCRITOS?


We know nothing about the origin and acquisition of the Maya codices (with the exception of
the Grolier Codex); as a result, their proveniences are either unknown or uncertain. Analyzing
internal evidence contained in the manuscripts themselves, however, has allowed researchers
to develop and test theories about the dating and place where these documents were
manufactured.
Scholars generally attribute the Dresden, Paris, and Madrid codices to the Late Postclassic
period (c. A.D. 1200-1500) on the basis of their painting style. All three may be compared to
murals found at Postclassic sites in northern Yucatn such as Tulum, Tancah, Santa Rita, and
Mayapn. Both the codices and the murals show evidence of being influenced by the MixtecaPuebla art style, which spread throughout much of Mesoamerica after A.D. 1100. Until recently,
the dating and provenience of the Maya codices have been determined largely on the basis of
stylistic comparisons such as these. In 1997, however, several scholars, including Michael Coe
and Justin Kerr in the book The Art of the Maya Scribe and James Porter in a separate
publication, questioned the supposition that the Madrid Codex is pre-conquest in origin.
Instead, they argued that it may have been painted in the Petn region of Guatemala after the
conquest of Yucatn. This proposal is challenged in several more recent publications (discussed
below; see H. Bricker 2004; Chuchiak 2004; Graff and Vail 2001; Paxton 2004; Vail and Aveni
2004; Vail et al. 2003).
Dating the Maya Codices

The Dresden Codex may be the earliest of the Maya codices, with the possible exception of the
Grolier Codex, which John Carlson attributes to the Early Postclassic period (however, other
scholars, including Eric Thompson, Claude Baudez, and Susan Milbrath, consider the codex a
forgery). Eric Thompson proposed a date of A.D. 1200-1250 for the Dresden Codex and a
provenience in Chichn Itz. Other researchers have suggested dates in the mid 14th century
A.D. for the manuscript on the basis of Long Count dates contained in the astronomical tables.
With regard to the Paris Codex, Thompson thought that it was most likely drafted at one of the
east coast sites such as Tulum or at Mayapn between the 13th and 15th centuries. Bruce Love,
the author of The Paris Codex: Handbook for a Maya Priest, agrees that Mayapn represents a
likely provenience for the manuscript, based on similarities to stone monuments at the site. His
analysis suggests that the codex could have been painted as late as A.D. 1450.
Scholarly opinion has generally favored a pre-conquest date for the Madrid Codex as well,
although there have been some dissenting voices. Writing in the 1950s, Thompson outlined two
possible proveniences for the manuscript, including (1) northwestern Yucatn in the 15th
century, or (2) Tayasal, where it may have been obtained by the Spanish during the 1697
overthrow. He later rejected the second possibility, however, and supported the idea that it
originated in western Yucatn. More recently, Michael Coe and James Porter have returned to
the possibility of a post-conquest dating of the Madrid Codex and a Tayasal provenience.
Coes belief that the Madrid Codex comes from the 17th-century Petn stems from the
presence of paper with Latin writing on page 56, which he considers to be integral to the
manuscript. Although much of the Latin text cannot be read, Coe identifies part of the name
...riquez on the fragment of paper that remains. He interprets this as a possible reference to
the Franciscan missionary Fray Juan Enrquez, an idea that he attributes to Stephen Houston.
Based on the fact that Enrquez was killed in the town of Sacalum in 1624 during an attempt to
conquer Tayasal, Coe proposes that the manuscript was produced after this date.

Page 56 of the Madrid Codex with Latin writing. The writing, which appears in mirror image on
the original, has been reversed so that the text can be read. After Anders (1967). Courtesy of
the Museo de Amrica, Madrid.
Porter independently arrived at a similar conclusion, although his argument is based on two
objects depicted in the manuscriptwhat he interprets as a European weapon on page 39b
and an idol representing a horse on page 39c . Porter attributes these two scenes directly to
Hernan Corts visit to Tayasal in 1525, and therefore dates the painting of the codex to the
interval between Corts departure and the conquest of Tayasal in 1697.
More recent studies call these conclusions into question. In an analysis of the material culture
represented in the Madrid Codex, Don Graff identified a number of artifacts that are diagnostic
of a certain time period in the archaeological record, including specific varieties of incense
burners, several drums, a rattle, and a weaving pick. The presence of these items indicates that
the Madrid Codex was painted after A.D. 1300. Graff notes, however, that depictions of these
artifacts do not rule out the possibility of a post-conquest date, since the Madrid Codex may

have been copied from earlier books in which such objects were depicted. Nevertheless,
striking parallels between the material culture depicted in the Dresden and Madrid codices,
together with astronomical evidence, strongly suggest that the codex is pre-conquest in date.
On the basis of these data, Graff and Vail attribute the Madrid Codex to the mid 15th century in
their article Censers and Stars: Issues in the Dating of the Madrid Codex. This determination
can be supported by the artifacts pictured in the manuscript, including the items that Porter
attributes to the post-conquest period. As Graff and Vail note, Porters identifications of two
objects suggesting European influence on page 39 of the codex are highly questionable, and
both can be better explained within the framework of Postclassic Maya culture.
Resolving the issue of whether the manuscript is pre- or post-conquest ultimately depends on
determining if the paper with the European writing is genuinely integral to the codex
(sandwiched between layers of paper with Maya writing) or whether it is a later addition that
became attached either intentionally or accidentally. A recent analysis by Harvey
Bricker provides what we believe is a definitive answer to this questionthe European paper
lies on top of the original codex and therefore cannot be used to support a post-conquest
dating of the manuscript.
The Provenience of the Maya Codices
Other research methodologies have been used to determine where the Maya codices
originated. Early studies concerning the language of the codical texts suggested a Yucatecan
provenience for these manuscripts. This supposition was called into question in the 1990s by
Robert Wald and Alfonso Lacadena, who found evidence of Cholan as well as Yucatecan texts
in the Dresden and Madrid codices. A more recent analysis by Gabrielle Vail indicates that
Yucatec was the primary language of the Madrid scribes, based on patterns of verbal inflection
and other linguistic indicators. Many of these involve the way that words are formed
(inflectional or morphological patterning).
Vails analysis of the hieroglyphic texts from the Madrid Codex indicates the presence of
vocabulary items from both Yucatec and the Western Cholan languages (specifically Chontal),
in agreement with Lacadenas findings. Additionally, there are morphological features
suggestive of Yucatec, Eastern Cholan (Chorti and Cholti), and Western Cholan (see map
below). However, although Cholan vocabulary occurs throughout the entire codex, Cholan
morphology is more limited in its distribution, with Yucatec being predominant.

Map showing the distribution of Maya linguistic groups. After V. Bricker (1986: Fig. 1).
This patterning lends itself to the following scenario. Like most Maya documents, the Madrid
Codex consists of a compilation of almanacs and texts that were drafted by different scribes
and often copied from earlier sources. This is similar to the patterning seen in Colonial period
Yucatec texts, such as the Books of Chilam Balam (discussed below). Because of the
predominance of Yucatec morphology, Vail proposes that several, if not all, of the scribes who
drafted the Madrid Codex were Yucatec speakers. She interprets the presence of passages that
incorporate features from the Eastern Cholan languages as indications that certain texts
represent copies from earlier manuscripts that were not updated by the copyist. This possibility
receives support from a proposal made by Stephen Houston, David Stuart, and John Robertson
that the Classic period Maya elite used Choltian (an Eastern Cholan language) as a written
language, whether they themselves were Yucatec or Cholan speakers. Examples of Eastern
Cholan morphology in the Madrid Codex, Vail proposes, represent archaisms or holdovers from
the Classic period. There is stronger evidence of Western Cholan influence, seen both in terms
of the presence of the Chontal spelling of the word for rulership (ajawle ) throughout the
Madrid texts, as well as several passages containing Western Cholan morphology. Vail suggests
that these data indicate contact between the Madrid scribes and members of the Chontal elite
residing along the Gulf coast (see map above).
The patterning described by Vail is analogous in many respects to the use of Spanish loan words
(and sometimes complete clauses) in the Colonial Books of Chilam Balam. As Victoria Bricker
and Helga-Maria Miram have demonstrated, the Book of Chilam Balam of Kaua represents a
compilation of European and native Yucatec texts. In some cases, Spanish texts were copied
without translation into the Kaua manuscript, although this often resulted in corrupted

spellings. In other instances, Spanish and Latin texts were translated into Yucatec, and there are
also occasional examples of only partially translated texts. Bricker compares this to some of the
hybrid Cholan and Yucatecan texts in the Maya codices described by Vail.
Vails model suggests a Yucatecan provenience for the Madrid Codex, but it does not rule out
the possibility that it was painted in the Tayasal area of the Petn, since this region was
occupied by Itzaj speakers (Itzaj and Yucatec are closely related languages that are both
members of the Yucatecan language family). Recent studies by John Chuchiak and Merideth
Paxton point away from a Tayasal origin, however, demonstrating instead a close relationship
with the northern part of the Yucatn peninsula. Chuchiak provides a compelling analysis of the
Latin text on Madrid 56. If his conclusions are correct, it is possible to relate the handwriting of
the text to a specific scribe, Gregorio de Aguilar, who was in the eastern part of the Yucatn
peninsula in the early 17th century. Recent analyses, therefore, bring questions about the
provenience and dating of the Madrid Codex full circle.

Lu conclusion de la importancia de los calendarios


para el studio de los mayas

Lu
Agus
Gato
Juani