Accepted paper:

Through seeing stones: Maya epigraphy as a mature discipline

Author:

Stephen Houston (Brown University)

Paper short abstract:

The decipherment of Maya writing is a story of surmounted challenges and novel, piercing insights into the civilization behind such texts. But a look to the future reveals its limits as well as promising routes ahead.

Paper long abstract:

The decipherment of Maya writing is a story of surmounted challenges and novel, piercing insights into the civilization behind such texts. But a look to the future reveals its limits. What seem to be insoluble debates darken its future. Constraints of evidence, arguments about spelling rules, unexamined postulates, and faltering access to newly discovered texts point to problems in this maturing discipline. The list of worries is large: meta-data about the script remain elusive or unstudied; full sets of dates are not yet tabulated; lags occur in relating inscriptions to surrounding contexts; and scholars, divided between a few full-time specialists and a large field of part-time students or enthusiasts of varying training, evince faltering concern with placing Maya writing in comparative perspective. Looking to the positive, this paper highlights consensus and promising directions that are sure to deepen local and comparative knowledge.

panel P052
The future with/of Maya anthropology