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Book/Printed Material The Dresden Codex. Codex Dresdensis

About this Item


  • The Dresden Codex.

Other Title

  • Codex Dresdensis


  • Only four Mayan manuscripts still exist worldwide, of which the oldest and best preserved is the Dresden Codex, held in the collections of the Saxon State and University Library. The manuscript was purchased for the Dresden court library in 1739 in Vienna, as a "Mexican book." In 1853 it was identified as a Mayan manuscript. Consisting of 39 leaves, inscribed on both sides, and approximately 358 centimeters long, the manuscript originally was folded in an accordion-like manner. The chalk-coated writing material, amatl, is a paper-like matter produced from fig-tree fiber by means of soaking and beating. The codex depicts hieroglyphs and numerals and figures, and contains ritual and divination calendars, calculations of the phases of Venus, eclipses of the sun and moon, instructions relating to new-year ceremonies, and descriptions of the locations of the Rain God, which culminate in a full-page miniature showing a great deluge. The preeminent researcher working with Mayan codices in the 19th century was Ernst Förstermann (1822--1906), royal librarian of the Electorate of Saxony and director of the Saxon State and University Library. Förstermann elucidated the numerical, calendrical, and astronomic systems in the codex and determined that the deities, numbers, and day names in it related to the 260-day Mayan calendar. Förstermann also used the codex to make important contributions to scholarly understanding of the Mayan Long Count calendar, which counted days from the Mayan creation date.

Created / Published

  • [place of publication not identified] : [publisher not identified], [1200 to 1250]


  • -  Mexico
  • -  1200 to 1250
  • -  Calendars
  • -  Codex
  • -  Dresden Codex
  • -  Indians of Mexico
  • -  Indigenous peoples
  • -  Maya calendar
  • -  Maya gods
  • -  Mayas
  • -  Mesoamerica


  • -  Title devised, in English, by Library staff.
  • -  "Shelfmark: Mscr.Dresd.R.310"--Note extracted from World Digital Library.
  • -  Original resource extent: 39 leaves : 358 centimeters long.
  • -  Original resource at: Saxon State and University Library, Dresden.
  • -  Content in Yucateco.
  • -  Description based on data extracted from World Digital Library, which may be extracted from partner institutions.


  • 1 online resource.

Source Collection

  • World History

Digital Id

Library of Congress Control Number

  • 2021667917

Online Format

  • compressed data
  • pdf
  • image

Additional Metadata Formats

IIIF Presentation Manifest

Rights & Access

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Credit Line: [Original Source citation], World Digital Library

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Cite This Item

Citations are generated automatically from bibliographic data as a convenience, and may not be complete or accurate.

Chicago citation style:

The Dresden Codex. [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, to 1250, 1200] Pdf.

APA citation style:

(1200) The Dresden Codex. [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, to 1250] [Pdf] Retrieved from the Library of Congress,

MLA citation style:

The Dresden Codex. [Place of Publication Not Identified: Publisher Not Identified, to 1250, 1200] Pdf. Retrieved from the Library of Congress, <>.