Through the years scholars have debated the question of what exactly the hallmarks of civilization are.
Many think about the growth of writing, mathematics, astronomy, stratified society, trade systems, etc. as a measurement of progression towards high culture. ( a argument that is foolish during my judgement. By now everyone should know that true civilization is earmarked by hot showers and ice in your drink.) Even so the use of writing traditionally been considered a gauge for determining how long a civilization has evolved from more beginnings that are modest.
When it comes to the ancient Maya that is definitely correct that their system of writing is hailed among the most memorable achievements for the Pre-Columbian New World. The capacity to record information in relatively permanent records which may be handed down from one generation to another insured continuity in the transmission of seasonal and astronomical data. This led to the refinement of mathematic systems and, as it turned out, growth of a calendar far more accurate than that used in Europe well to the sixteenth century.
Even though it is certainly true that the Maya writing system was probably the most refined in all of Mesoamerica, other cultures eventually caught onto the idea. The Aztec and Mixtec cultures adopted a somewhat less sophisticated as a type of record keeping, with strong emphasis on picture-writing instead of the Maya system that was language oriented. The Inca developed a complicated system of record keeping using knotted strings which suited their needs in keeping track of herds of animals, but they never got around to writing things down in South America.
The Maya, on the other side hand, manufactured paper through the inner bark of certain types of trees, mainly the amate and ficus. Stone bark-beaters, oblong, flat grooved tools about hand-size were used to pound out the bark that has been then bleached with lime, cut into strips and folded like a screen that is japanese. A variety of paints were employed to illustrate these “books”, which were painted on both relative sides and bound between elaborately decorated boards.
Nearly all associated with the Maya books failed to survive the Spanish conquest because the Maya writing was deemed to possess been inspired because of the Devil, plus the church and government officials went to extreme lengths to destroy these examples of “paganism”. [Read more…]