Learning how to read the beautifully carved glyphs of the classic Mayan era comes with an appreciation of the logic and complexity of the language plus an even deeper appreciation of an under-appreciated civilization. Much of what we see in the written record on the ruins of Central America has wiggle room for interpretation. We have only glimpses of daily life in Mesoamerica and tons of folk tales that mingle mystery, ritual, conquest, and kingdom building based upon only a fraction of the facts from two thousand years of development. Had the thousands of volumes of written text survived the conquest of 16th Century conquistadors, perhaps there would be less interpretation and far more comprehension of the culture and science of a decimated population.
Dr. Bowen continues his quest to reveal the unknowns of Mesoamerican music. We know little and grasp for threads of reality with every new discovery.
“I have been too busy and too excited to journal this week. We have discovered additional evidence of the reverence that the Uxmalico community placed on music. As hundreds of years of burial fill and dust were painstaking shaved from the base of a test pit, just a fraction of an inch at a time, a large ceramic shard overcame its shyness to bring smiles and cheers to the whole team. Staring up from centuries of silence appeared a glyph bearing the classic image of a Macaw playing a horn flanked by a graphical symbol reserved for identifying brightness of gods. On the horn is a simple arc and half-moon that can be translated breath or wind. A tiny inscription near the base of the horn is not completely discernible, but may be significant upon closer exam.
Surely it is mere coincidence that a calm day was interrupted by a gentle breeze and the flutter of wings as we gathered around the excavation’s prize. But I cannot help but to interpret this finding as another indication that music played a part in the mysticism of this culture. The scribe who painted this glyph has not been identified and the crudeness of the style may be an indication of youth, inexperience, or perhaps a caste who was not considered worthy of contributing to the permanent record. We continue to excavate and will expand the tests to the edge of a square depression that borders the hostile overgrowth.”