Παρασκευή, 9 Σεπτεμβρίου 2016

Oldest known book of the Americas points to how Mayans precisely recorded the movement of Venus


Dresden Codex. Credit: NOVA/PBSDresden Codex. Credit: NOVA/PBS
The Dresden Codex (also known as the Codex Dresdensis) is a Maya codex from the pre-Columbian era of 11th-12th century; and as such is considered as a copy of an older, original document that was possibly compiled in 8th century AD. In spite of the ‘derivative’ feature, the Dresden Codex is the oldest book written in the Americas known to historians, with its fascinating content of astronomical tables, including the Lunar Series and Venus table. Pertaining to the latter mentioned part, while the Venus table has intrigued researchers and historians over the years, the scope of its analysis has been mostly limited to numerology denominations. But this time around, researcher Gerardo Aldana, a professor of anthropology at UC Santa Barbara, has made a new case for the table, and his study links the astronomical and historical attributes of the Venus table that were possibly achieved by an early Maya scientist. In essence, the table might have alluded to an incredible astronomical discovery related to Venus more than a thousand years ago.

To that end, Aldana made use of epigraphy (study of hieroglyphics) combined with archaeology and astronomical records, and this ambit hints at how a correction in the ancient text relates to to the movements of Venus. The equation was probably made during the period between 8th-10th century (also known as Terminal Classic period) in the Mayan city of Chich’en Itza, (possibly) under the patronage of K’ak’ U Pakal K’awiil, the ruler/high-ranking official of the settlement. Aldana has this to say about the scribe who made this change in the Venus table –