An Enigmatic Written Language

The first Europeans to visit Maya ruins in the 19th century were amazed by the writing – the glyphs – that covered the walls of the long-abandoned cities. But they had no idea what the shapes and symbols meant.

The glyphs are no less striking today, but their meaning is much better understood. In fact, a tour of the exhibition will teach you how to ‘Crack the code’.

Most Maya books were burned during the Spanish conquest and knowledge of the written language had faded away. Almost 500 years later, and after decades of research, experts can now read about 80% of the writings. Their scholarship has transformed our understanding of the ancient Maya culture. Nevertheless, many secrets remain concealed by this often-enigmatic written language.