The Mayan codices illuminated manuscripts in which information on the life of the Maya, but also about astronomy and mathematics, were recorded. They were probably Manuals calendar priests. The Maya had a highly developed writing system from images, font and number characters.

Got Maya codices

By the time of the conquistadors and the destruction of all " pagan " objects (especially by Diego de Landa in 1562 ) today only three authentic with security Mayan books. They were all named to distinguish by their later repository in Europe:

  • Madrid Codex ( Codex Tro - also Cortesianus, 112 pages, 6.82 meters)
  • Dresden Codex (also the Dresden Codex, 74 pages, 3.56 meters)
  • Paris Codex ( Codex also Peresianus, 22 pages, 1.45 meters )

A fourth 11- sided Mayan Codex, which was first issued in 1971 in the New York " Grolier Club", the Grolier Codex, is considered by experts as fake.

Content and development

The codices contain ritual and interpretation calendar, astronomical calculations and mythological calendar. Due to its contents, the three surviving Mayan manuscripts were probably Manuals calendar priests.

The three codices were probably formed in the last centuries before the Spanish conquest, the Postclassic. Due to linguistic and artistic similarities with local inscriptions it is assumed that the three books obtained from the same region, the northern part of the Yucatán Peninsula, originate. As they came from Yucatán to Europe, despite intensive investigation is not known.


The majority of what we know today about the Maya, comes from these codices. Other records are found only as inscriptions on buildings and sculptures of the Maya. Later, in the days of Spanish rule, was the Popol Vuh, but already in the Latin alphabet. It is believed that the Maya have has a sophisticated literature, but which has not survived the period of colonial rule.