MAYAN WRITING SYSTEM
by Paty Jager
Caroline, thank you for having me here today.
The Maya had an expressive script they used to record every nuance of sound, meaning, and grammatical structure in the writers’ language. It was calligraphic with the elegance of a free flowing line. Whether the scribes were carving limestone, engraving jade, inscribing on shell, or incising bone the grace of the writing stayed intact.
Besides the hard natural surfaces they carved on, they also had accordion-folded books made from beaten bark paper that was surfaced with a thin layer of plaster. Four of these books survived time, elements, and the Spaniards. They are calendar almanacs for rituals.
While the world has lost the other books that were written, it can be presumed that they were about the same things as have been witnessed on the monuments and carved tablets: genealogy, history, learning, tribute, trade, mythology, views of the world and history.
A lot of valuable information has been lost and only a few scholars are able to decipher the writing system of the Maya though many present day Maya speak languages descended from the two written languages in the ancient texts. They are Yucatecan—spoken by the people living in the northern third and on the eastern edge of the peninsula of Central America, and Cholan—spoken at the base of the southern lowlands from Palenque in the west to Copán in the east.
In SECRETS OF A MAYAN MOON, Isabella Mumphrey knows enough of the Cholan language to discover a piece of a tablet that plays a role in her deciphering a ritual that could bring about her death.
Child prodigy and now Doctor of Anthropology, Isabella Mumphrey, is about to lose her job at the university. In the world of publish or perish, her mentor’s request for her assistance on a dig is just the opportunity she’s been seeking. If she can decipher an ancient stone table—and she can—she’ll keep her department. She heads to Guatemala, but drug trafficking bad guys, artifact thieves, and her infatuation for her handsome guide wreak havoc on her scholarly intentions.
DEA agent Tino Kosta, is out to avenge the deaths of his family. He’s deep undercover as a jaguar tracker and sometimes jungle guide, but the appearance of a beautiful, brainy anthropologist heats his Latin blood, taking him on a dangerous detour that could leave them both casualties of the jungle.
Tino found a shady spot and two wood crates to sit on at the edge of the small gathering of adobe huts roofed with palm fronds. He placed a Gallo in front of himself and a can of soda water in front of Isabella. Digging into a side pocket of his bag, he pulled out fruit, rolls, and cheese. “It is not much, but it will sustain us for the trip.”
He handed the food to Isabella. Her gaze traveled over every inch of the community. Her desire to speak to the locals and gather more information was evident in her eyes. The few locals, watching them with curious stares, appeared harmless. If she could glean useful information without knowing their language, he wouldn’t stop her.
“After we eat, if you wish to try and visit with the locals, I do not mind waiting.”
She rewarded him with a wide, full smile and glittering eyes.
“Gracias. I would love to visit with them about their ancestors and way of life.” She ate with her usual vigor.
A grin tugged his lips when she pulled out the large knife she carried and cut more cheese, placing it inside another roll.
Isabella eased her backpack onto her shoulders and stood. He took that as a signal she was ready to visit with the locals. Tino put the remaining food into his pack and shouldered it.
“Let’s try the old man over there. He seems as curious about us as you are about them.” Tino headed toward the man, a friendly smile on his lips.
The man watched their approach, but his gaze remained on Isabella.
“May we speak with you?” Tino asked in Spanish, doubting the man would understand their request.
The man shook his head and chattered in a language unfamiliar to Tino.
Isabella stepped forward, her face glowed with excitement. She haltingly spoke back to the man.
Tino touched her arm, drawing her attention to him. “What is he speaking?”
“Cholan.” Her grin grew.
“You know this language?” Her intelligence surprised him once again.
“I know bits of it. Not enough to learn what I’d like to know, but enough to impress him to let me in his home.”
SECRETS OF A MAYAN MOON is available at Kindle, Nook, and Smashwords.
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|Paty Jager, Author|
Wife, mother, grandmother, and the one who cleans pens and delivers the hay; award winning author Paty Jager and her husband currently ranch 350 acres when not dashing around visiting their children and grandchildren. She not only writes the western lifestyle, she lives it.
Her contemporary Western, Perfectly Good Nanny won the 2008 Eppie for Best Contemporary Romance, Spirit of the Mountain, a historical paranormal set among the Nez Perce, garnered 1st place in the paranormal category of the Lories Best Published Book Contest, and Spirit of the Lake, the second book of the spirit trilogy, was a finalist in the Gayle Wilson Award of Excellence.
You can learn more about Paty at her blog; www.patyjager.blogspot.com her website; http://www.patyjager.net or on Facebook; https://www.facebook.com/#!/paty.jager and twitter; @patyjag.
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