August 1, 2016 Maya Hieroglyphic Language, Theory and Decipherment Seminars To Be Held at Library

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: John Hessler (202) 707-7223

The Library of Congress in September will begin hosting monthly seminars of the Pre-Columbian Society that focus on the epigraphy and hieroglyphics of the early Americas.

The society’s Maya Hieroglyphic Inscription, Theory and Decipherment Seminars (known as the Glyph Group) are held monthly to work through current research problems and to instruct beginners in the deciphering of ancient Maya inscriptions. The first meeting at the Library will take place from 1 p.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday, Sept. 24 in the Geography and Map Division on the basement level of the James Madison Memorial Building, 101 Independence Ave. S.E., Washington, D.C. The seminars are free and open to the public, and after September will be held on the third Saturday of each month.

The seminars are held in association with the Library’s Jay I. Kislak Collection of the History and Archaeology of the Early Americas. The Geography and Map Division houses the Pre-Columbian archaeological collections at the Library.

In the past, the Glyph Group has worked on difficult decipherment problems such as Altar 1 from the archaeological site of Naranjo in Guatemala. The altar is badly damaged but its inscriptions are particularly important to calculations involving the ancient Maya calendar. The group has also focused on the decipherment of the complex inscriptions and painted hieroglyphs found on Maya ceramics and pottery, which cast light on ancient Maya religious beliefs and courtly life.

The group, comprised of both dedicated amateurs and professionals, invites beginners and anyone interested in the history, language and writing of the early Americas, before the time of Columbus, to attend and participate in the discussions. Group members will offer introductory classes in glyph reading to anyone interested in attending.

The Glyph Group is coordinated by Graham Atkinson, an archaeological research volunteer for the Library’s Kislak Collection, and by John Hessler, curator of the Kislak Collection. Contact jhes@loc.gov for more information.

The Pre-Columbian Society of Washington, D.C. is an educational organization dedicated to furthering knowledge and understanding of the peoples of the Americas before the time of Columbus. Founded in 1993, the society provides a forum for the exchange of information regarding these pre-Columbian cultures between academic professionals and interested members of the public. For more information, visit this site External.

The Library of Congress has the largest and most comprehensive collection of maps and atlases in the world, some 5.4 million cartographic items that date from the 14th century to the present time. The cartographic collections cover every country and subject, in formats ranging from early manuscripts to the most up-to-date digital geospatial data and software. The collections include the works of some of the most important surveyors and mapmakers in America, such as George Washington, Meriwether Lewis, and Richard Edes Harrison, along with archives relating to the history of geography in the United States. For more information, visit loc.gov/rr/geogmap/.

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PR 16-127
2016-08-01
ISSN 0731-3527