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An inscription in Maya glyphs from the site of Naranjo , relating to the reign of king Itzamnaaj K'awil , 784-810 The Mayan script , also known as Mayan glyphs or Mayan hieroglyphs , is the writing system of the Maya civilization of Mesoamerica , presently the only Mesoamerican writing system that has been substantially deciphered. The earliest inscriptions found which are identifiably Maya date to the 3rd century BCE in San Bartolo , Guatemala . [ 1 ] [ 2 ] Maya writing was in continuous use throughout Mesoamerica until shortly after the arrival of the conquistadors in the 16th century CE and into the 18th century in isolated areas, such as Tayasal . Maya writing used logograms complemented by a set of syllabic glyphs , somewhat similar in function to modern Japanese writing .
Once considered an unsolvable enigma, recent advances in the decipherment of the Maya writing system has not only shed light on the mechanics of the script, but also on the socio-political, artistic, and historical aspects of Maya civilization. As a whole, the Maya people created the longest lasting civilization of the New World. It became distinguishable from other early farming cultures of Mesoamerica in the middle of the first millenium BCE, when the first great Maya cities were constructed. Their culture endured through changes, wars, and disasters until it was suppressed by the Spanish conquest in the 16th and 17th centuries. The last indepedent Maya kingdom of Tayasal, fell as late as 1697.
Mesoamerican chronology divides the history of pre-Columbian Mesoamerica into several periods: the Paleo-Indian (first human habitation–3500 BCE), the Archaic (3500–2000), the Preclassic (2000 BCE–200 CE), the Classic (200 CE–1000CE), and the Postclassic (1000 CE–1697 CE). Some of the period divisions are taken from the history of the Maya : The Preclassic-Classic boundary marks the first Maya "collapse", the Classic-Postclassic boundary marks the second, and the end date of 1697 marks the conquest of the last independent Maya city -state, Tayasal . However, this chronology applies to other pre-Columbian Mesoamerican civilizations as well. [ edit ] Overview