Object of the month: The Mayan Codex

With the Maya Codex, an exhibit of the Saxon State and University Library Dresden (SLUB) was in the focus of worldwide interest these past weeks. This was due to the fact that the Mayan calendar supposedly prophesied the end of the world for December 21, 2012. The fact that the Maya did not actually link an apocalypse with this date, but merely the end of a 400-year calendar cycle, did not detract from the fascination.

Maya Codex

The Dresden Codex, the oldest and best preserved book of the Maya, served as a guide for a temple priest. It contains various almanacs, divination calendars, astronomical tables, ritual regulations and numerous representations of gods. The document, consisting of 39 leaves written on both sides and originally folded as a leporello made of fig tree bark, is exhibited in the SLUB Book Museum in Dresden. There are only two other copies in the world: one in Paris and one in Madrid. The Dresden Codex is the only one of these three codices accessible to the public. It is one of 50 preciosities from more than four millenia presented in the treasure room of the SLUB. The manuscript is a key document for the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphs and for the study of astronomy and chronology of the Maya.

Maya Codex



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