- Taschenbuch: 304 Seiten
- Verlag: Thames & Hudson Ltd; Auflage: 3 Revised edition. (23. Januar 2012)
- Sprache: Englisch
- ISBN-10: 0500289557
- ISBN-13: 978-0500289556
- Größe und/oder Gewicht: 15,7 x 2,5 x 23,4 cm
- Durchschnittliche Kundenbewertung: 6 Kundenrezensionen
- Amazon Bestseller-Rang: Nr. 221.948 in Fremdsprachige Bücher (Siehe Top 100 in Fremdsprachige Bücher)
- Komplettes Inhaltsverzeichnis ansehen
Breaking the Maya Code (Englisch) Taschenbuch – 23. Januar 2012
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A great story told clearly and passionately by a great Mayanist.
As good an introduction to the world of the Maya, and of Maya scholars, as one is likely to get.
Portrays a Maya culture obsessed with warfare, dynastic rivalries, and ritual bloodletting, yet rich with masterpieces in art and architecture.
This is the story of how the Mayan glyphs found in the ancient ruins of Copan and other Mayan sites have been deciphered within the last 20 years. Michael Coe worked with all the leading players in this field. Although the Mayan cities were discovered a century and a half ago, the field of Mayan scholarship was dominated by scholars who had a dogmatic approach to the decipherment. Both personalities and Cold War politics slowed down the process. Then in the early 50s, a Russian scholar, Knorosov, interpreted the glyphs in a new way, comprising both phonetic and conceptual ideas. Another breakthrough, deciphering the pattern of dates in the Mayan records, followed at the end of the decade. In the 70s, studies of comparative languages furthered the decipherment, and now perhaps 85% of the glyphs can be deciphered - though many mysteries remain. This is an account of the decipherment of an ancient language, which is given added impact by Coe's first-hand account of scholarly rivalries, personality clashes, and political prejudices which held back progress for so long. The book includes many illustrations of the glyphs and engravings, and two photo insets. -- Dieser Text bezieht sich auf eine vergriffene oder nicht verfügbare Ausgabe dieses Titels.Alle Produktbeschreibungen
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Mayan writing has only really started to give up its secrets in the last twenty five years. Coe's primary thesis (for which he makes a convincing case) is that there are two reason it took so long: first, there was no large, widely available corpus of Mayan writing for epigraphers to work on; second, there was a widely held belief among Mayanists that the writing did not represent spoken language, but instead represented "not Maya words or construction, but universal ideas".
He spends some time on the story of Champollion's decipherment of Egyptian writing in the early nineteenth century, in order to be able to draw parallels with the state of play in Mayanist studies. Then he moves on through the history of the subject, with short biographies of many of the key academic figures, bringing the story up to 1992. There's a short postscript for the 1999 edition.
Coe makes no bones about the academic in-fighting. A couple of the reviews below object to his tone: he is very clear about who he thinks obstructed the field (Eric Thompson, for example), and who he thinks was critical to the successess (Yuri Knorosov). His comments about Thompson, while sometimes affectionate, attribute much of the delay in understanding Mayan writing to the deadening effect of Thompson's influence. Thompson, a well-respected and very influential Mayanist, believed that the glyphs had no relationship to any spoken Mayan language, and poured scorn (Coe quotes some reviews) on those who disagreed.
In the end, I think Coe gets the balance about right. There really is in-fighting in academe, and what he shows of it doesn't obscure the excitement of the decipherment. Coe tells a whole story: it's his personal view, but it's a view from the inside. He's enthusiastic, knowledgeable, and he writes well. Recommended.
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