Maya Codex (Codices), only 4 survive today
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Friday April 20, 2018

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The Madrid Codex: Made its way to Europe, discovered in Spain in the 1860's.


The Paris Codex: made its way to Europe, was found in a basket in the National Library of France.


The Grolier Codex, is still contested by many as being a forgery. It surfaced in the 1970's, said to have been found inside a cave, and is just fragments of pages.

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Maya Codex (Codices), only 4 survive today

Top photo: The Dresden Codex, the most detailed of the 4. Somehow made its way to Europe and was purchased by the royal library of the court of Saxony in Dresden in 1739.

Today we can pick up a pen and write on paper easily (for those who still use this medium over a keyboard and computer screen). During the time of the ancient Maya, the inner bark of certain trees, most the wild fig, was made into bark paper, and were made into folded books called a codex (codices plural).

The Maya had written many of these books, and countless were destroyed by the Spanish conquistadors and the Catholic priests who came, in particular De Landa, who wrote, “We found a large number of books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which were not to be seen as superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they regretted to an amazing degree, and which caused them much affliction.” Only 4 survive today, in varying degrees of preservation.

Photographs courtesy Institute of Archaeology (NICH) Belize

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