The Dresden Codex, also known as the Codex Dresdensis, is a pre-Columbian Maya book of the eleventh or twelfth century of the Yucatecan Maya in Chichén Itzá.
This is The complete Förstemann version of the Dresden Codex.
This Maya codex is believed to be a copy of an original text of some three or four hundred years earlier. It is the oldest book written in the Americas known to historians. Of the hundreds of books that were used in Mesoamerica before the Spanish conquest, it is one of only 15 that have survived to the present day.
The library that held the codex was bombed and suffered serious damage during the firebombing of Dresden in World War II. The Dresden Codex was heavily water damaged. The codex was meticulously restored; however, some of the pages were returned to the protective glass cabinet out of sequence. They have remained this way because the water damage caused some of the painted areas to adhere to the glass.
The Dresden Codex is considered the most complete of the three undisputably authentic Maya codices. The names of the codices indicate where they are housed. The Dresden Codex is made from Amatl paper ("kopó", fig-bark that has been flattened and covered with a lime paste), doubled in folds in an accordion-like form (sometimes called leporello) of folding-screen texts. The codex of bark paper is coated with fine stucco or gesso and is eight inches high by eleven feet long.
The Dresden Codex totals 78 pages on 39 double-sided sheets, with an overall length of 3.56 metres (11.7 feet). Four pages are empty. Each sheet measures 20.5 centimetres (8.1 in) by 10.0 centimetres (3.9 in). Originally, the codex had been accordion-folded. Since 1835 it has been exhibited in two parts, each of them preserved between glass panes. The first part contains 20 sheets, the second 19.
The codex was written by six different scribes using both sides. They all had their own particular writing style, glyphs and subject matter. The images of the codex were painted with extraordinary clarity using very fine brushes. The basic colors used for the codex, made of vegetable dyes, were red, black and the so-called Mayan blue.
Around 250 of the approximately 350 signs of the Dresden Codex have been decoded. Most of them refer to the accompanying figures. They comment on the images in short phrases. There are also numbers, consisting of bars (meaning "five"), dots (meaning "one") and stylized shells (meaning "zero").
The Dresden Codex contains astronomical tables of great accuracy. It is most famous for its Lunar Series and Venus table.The lunar series has intervals correlating with eclipses. The Venus Table correlates with the apparent movements of the planet. The codex also contains almanacs, astronomical and astrological tables, and ritual schedules. The specific numen references have to do with a 260-day ritual cycle divided up in several ways. The Dresden Codex also includes instructions concerning new-year ceremonies as well as descriptions of the Rain God's locations.
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