Thursday, August 23, 2012

Mayan proper names

A proper name is a designation of a unique item. From the decipherment of various hieroglyphic inscriptions and texts, found at Mayan places like Palenque, formerly Otulum, it is now known that the Maya had proper names not just for people, sites and landmarks, but also for tools and moveable items. In addition to dynastic rulers and scribes, for example, they named pyramids, temples, altars (sculpted stone blocks), stelae, an incense burner as well as jewelry and ceramics [1]:

The ancient Maya liked to name things, and they liked to tell the world who owned these things.

The existence of  Mayan proper names is illustrated, for example, by names for Maya Rulers of Copán [2,3], place names introduced by ut-i [1], and the owner's name carved into a Late Classic vase depicting scenes of assembling gods and acts of creation (page 221 in [1]) .

Keywords: archaeology, epigraphy,  name-tagging, toponyms, patron's name, nomenclature.

References and more to explore
[1] Michael D. Coe: Breaking the Maya Code. Thames & Hudson, New York, Revised Edition 1999; pages 221, 245 and 253-255.
[2] Günther Eichhorn: Maya Rulers of Copán. Travel pictures from Honduras [].
[3] Altar Q [].

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