Maya, the language of the great Maya civilization that flourished more than a thousand years ago, is still spoken in various forms by several million people in present-day Mexico, Guatemala, and British Honduras.

Maya proper, sometimes called Yucatec, is spoken by about 450,000 people on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico.

The Popul Vuh, the sacred book of the Mayas, is a informative account of Maya history and traditions, beginning with their creation story of the Mayan world. This sacred book is an important example of native American literature that has survived the passing of centuries, it was first translated into writing in the middle of the 16th century.

The Mayas possessed a fully developed system of writing, using symbols or hieroglyphs. They appear to be a combination of ideographs, phonetic signs, and also rebus writing, in which an ideograph is used to represent another word which happens to have the same pronunciation. For example, in English the sign for "eye" could be used to represent the pronoun "I".

The first signs to be deciphered were those dealing with the calendar and astronomy.

Submitted by Anonymous (not verified) on Thu, 05/24/2007 - 16:17