Friday, January 20, 2012

The Maya Code is here!

I have always been fascinated by the history of the Maya civilization, by their huge baggage of knowledge in so many different fields and by all concerns their existence. Today, for the first time in my life I saw with my own eyes the better preserved Maya code. I had no idea that such an important treasure is hosted here in Europe and exactly in the beautiful city of Dresden (Germany).
Of the three existing Maya codes (the Madrid Code, the Dresden Code and the Paris Code), the Dresden Code is not only the better preserved but it is also the most elaborated and a highly important work of art. The code, written in a long sheet of paper, in total 39 leaves written on both sides, was probably written before the Spanish conquest.

This code, shows many half-human and half-animal figures in different moments of their daily life. They have in their hands tools and wear jewels and ornaments. Some of these figures are showed in colored panels. All around the figures it is to be seen the Maya hieroglyphic script, tons of small images about rituals (almanacs) and astrology, especially the Venus Cycle, (the full Venus Cycle is clearly shown in the Dresden Code). Venus has been the most observed planet, as the Maya believed it to be associated with wars and started their wars according to the Venus cycles.

Great importance was, however, given also to the observation of other planets such as Jupiter, Mars and Saturn and to the moon. The Maya elaborated a carefully moon calendar and a lunar reckoning. Their lunar knowledge was so impressive that the Maya were able to make eclipse predictions. An almanac for predicting eclipses can be seen in the Dresden Code too, together with detailed information on the planet Mars. The Maya tracked the movements of Mars across the zodiac and the relation between its movements and the terrestrial seasons. This lead them delineate a clear map of naked eye sky watching.

It has been an exciting voyage into a past civilization that is still present in our everyday life.

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