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By Sue Bradford Edwards
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Extra resources for Ancient Maya
Indd 51 10/23/14 10:33 AM PICTURE PERFECT When linguists look at a system of writing, they can tell a lot about it by the number of symbols it includes. A system with 20 to 35 symbols probably has an alphabet with each symbol representing a simple sound, such as b or a. A system with 80 to 100 symbols likely has a syllable-based alphabet with Glottal Stops The spoken Mayan language includes a feature known as a glottal stop. This is the sound someone makes when they quit exhaling while talking.
Only those at the top learned to read. The scribes who served Maya courts came from this elite group. The Maya writing system is challenging both to write and to read. This is in part because there is no one way to write a given word or phrase. The glyph for sun can be written in several ways, all of which have four spokes or petals. Scientists have several different theories why there is so much variation. indd 58 10/23/14 10:33 AM fractured and fragmented. Alliances formed and dissolved, temporarily isolating cities from one another.
Through recent finds, archaeologists know that beyond the central plazas, the smaller plazas often lay some distance apart, surrounded by individual homes and gardens. Each of these smaller plazas was built on a small platform of limestone rock, boulders, and debris. In the center of these platforms stood houses that faced the small residential plaza. indd 38 10/23/14 10:32 AM Raised stone platforms supported Maya buildings. a cistern that collected and stored water. Eventually archaeologists realized these platforms and plazas had been built on elevated areas with poor soil.
Ancient Maya by Sue Bradford Edwards