Visible Language Series Lecture

The Living Sign: Maya Hieroglyphs and Vitalized Writing

Listen to the lecture

Many writing systems—whatever their origins—developed and retained a highly abstract quality throughout most of their existence. In a few cases, however, scripts gloried in "hieroglyphic" or iconic forms that bore a close relationship to the world that surrounded their makers. The most celebrated example is ancient Egyptian writing in its full pictorial mode. This talk focuses on another, the Maya glyphs that flourished from the centuries before the Common Era to a century or so after the Spanish conquest. This writing has a distinct "ontology" (theory of being) which melds pictures and sound into a seamless and dynamic whole.

The Peabody Museum of Archaeology & Ethnology presents the illustrated talk, "The Living Sign: Maya Hieroglyphs and Vitalized Writing" on Thursday, February 24, 2011 at Harvard's Geological Lecture Hall (24 Oxford St.). It is part of the Peabody Museum's year-long Visible Language lecture series. A public reception will follow at the Peabody Museum.

The speaker is Stephen Houston, Dupee Family Professor of Social Sciences, Brown University.




Full-figure glyph of bird deity, Late Classic period, Tonina, Chiapas, Mexico. Photo by Stephen Houston.

Thursday, February 24, 2011: "The Living Sign: Maya Hieroglyphs and Vitalized Writing"

5:30 PM Geological Lecture Hall, 24 Oxford St., Cambridge, followed by a public reception at the Peabody Museum, 11 Divinity Ave., Cambridge

Information: 617-496-1027 

See more about the Visible Language series.