Tikal digital

A treasure for the Mayanist community

Museums and Internet – this is still a difficult relationship despite all the improvements in access conditions. Go into a museum is just something else than to view a few pictures on the screen, to read texts and at best to rotate one or the other 3D object to rotate your own axis.

Tikal Digital

On the other hand, the internet can help at one of the brackish museums of museums at all: during the archives from works of art, collections, research results can only be overwhelmed "unearthly", where visitors will be ied, only a fraction. Now the Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology (UPM) tries to make a virtue out of necessity. As part of the Tikal Digital Access Projects, all archive materials, which were accumulated on behalf of the museum between 1956 – 1970 at excavations in the mayametropole tikal, are going to go online.

A project so monumental as the research object. What the excavations of the UPM in Tikal (since 1979 World Heritage) have provided is immensely. As an example of the media to digitize, the museum is called:

Entrepreneurship, correspondence, administrative files, maps, drawings, photo negative and trunks, slides, movies, as well as secondary materials such as published and unpublished scientific papers, students and dissertations

[translation MH]

For some materials, hurry is offered, so the museum, such as the more than 3,000 slides, many of which already have color losses. The financial effort, which up to date on 350.000 Dollar is quantified, despite the promised support by the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies already led to the acquisition of private donations. Why exactly the research on Tikal experiences such a special attention is quickly explained.

You can argue about whether tikal, Palenque, Copan, or another of the Mayestadte discovered so far "most beautiful" is at the outstanding meaning tikals for the history of Maya to the end of the classic period by 900 N. Chr. there is no doubt. That "Penn Tikal project", Eben the reluctant coarse research contract on which the collected data is based, according to UPM at its time, was groundbreaking in the application of advanced archaeological methods, and the museum now hopes with its courageous step, by the Internet access of the results not only to receive the data from then and unaval, but also to encourage new types of scientific cooperation that the Mayan is asking. For research relationships like Wayeb, the European Mayanist Association, the Tikal Digital Access Project will certainly develop a gold pit.

But the internet publication of the UPM archive is also interesting for a less obvious reason. In a way, the UPM materials come from a era of blindness. To understand that, you have to look at a piece of science history related to Mayan Studies who had to do with the Scripture of the Mayas. The decipher of these highly complex, fascinating writing has proved to be exceptionally difficult since the first European encounters with the Mayans during the CONQUISTA. Until the beginning of the twentieth century, only the structure of the Mayan calendar, the number system and the importance of some few characters were deciphered in Muhsamer small work. The British J. Eric S. Thompson, the most influential Mayanist of his time, categorized the characters in a fundamentally used system.

However, he believed in almost religious fountain that the font of the Maya sign for characters "ideographic" are.H. Each sign of certain ideas, intellectual contents prints, and this content and ideas increased astronomy, religion and basic mathematics, which corresponded to its own prejudice on Mayas – in his opinion, they were a peaceful people of star gums and vomited mathematicians been.

From 1952, another explanation system was available, namely that of the Russian Juri Knorosow. He pursued the so-called phonetic approach; For him, the individual characters represented syllables, which in combination with other syllables showed the words. How to wife today, this is far from the whole truth, but it is much true than the concepts Thompson’s. That one can read today – depending on various estimates – 70 – 85% of the Mayatexes, is clearly knorosov and his heirs to owe, not Thompson. However, due to its influence in the Mayanist community, it was even a serious discussion about the phonetic approach to prevent a serious discussion about the phonetic approach.

Partly he helped him a paranoid anticommunism, all of which came from the Soviet Union – so also Knorosov’s results – as a Marxist propaganda asset. Incredible, but true: The fear of the Obervater Thompson prevailed in the West crucial progress in deciphering the Mayan glyphs until his death in 1975.

Only then, the approach of Knorosow continuously prevailed and opened the Mayan Studies completely new horizons.

For the materials that the UPM wants to place online now, the consequences has. Since they come from the period of 1956 – 1970, a time, in which nobody came by Thompson in Mayan Studies, they will not be in a certain way to scientists again, but New made available:

In the light of what today is today because of the basic readability of the Mayan texts on the culture of the Culture, many of the results of the results must be read and evaluated at that time. In this sense, the materials of the UPM waiting for their republication really aazard treasure – and the Pennsylvania Museum of Archeology and Anthropology will write both science and internet history with his lift.

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