Yaxchilán, Lintel 24 - K2887 ©Justin Kerr - Click to view high resolution MAYA HIEROGLYPH DICTIONARY
Peter Mathews and Péter Bíró
Drawings by John Montgomery

Welcome to the Maya Hieroglyph Dictionary
by Peter Mathews

I can hear Linda Schele laughing, and saying "You've WHAT!? You've actually put Peter Mathews in charge of a WEB PAGE!?" Given how 'challenged' I am in the area of the demon electronic multifaceted computational-type thingy, a fair comment. The truth of it is very simple. If I can't mess the thing up, then it must be foolproof. And if I can successfully navigate my way around it, anyone can. More important for the safety and security of the world wide web, I shan't really be directly involved in the inputting and formulating of the website. That task will be in the hands of FAMSI-so thankfully my capacity to inflict catastrophic damage will be minimized.

The genesis of this project was when the FAMSI Board of Directors decided that having a Maya glyph dictionary on the "web" would be great service to Maya studies. They hoped that such a web page would enable scholars and amateurs alike to be able to check on what is new in Maya glyph readings, and to see at least some of the rationale and context for the readings. John Montgomery was at the time completing his Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs for Hippocrene Press (Montgomery 2002), and FAMSI asked if they could use his important dictionary as the basis for this web page. John graciously agreed, but of course then came the issue of converting it to website format and adding to and updating the web page with more recent proposed readings, additional contexts, etc. This is where that Antipodean Luddite, yours truly, enters the picture: for some reason FAMSI took it upon themselves to ask me to coordinate the online Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs.

Several years later, FAMSI asked me to develop an entirely new on-line Maya hieroglyph dictionary. I asked one of my graduate students, the epigrapher Péter Bíró, to help me, and together we decided to design a new format for the dictionary. Needless to say, we are delighted and honoured to be asked, and we hope that you, fair reader and glypher, will feel that the project is a useful and worthwhile one.

Our intention is to make a dictionary to which we can easily incorporate new readings and respond to suggestions for changes and improvements. No doubt there will be many such suggestions, due to the energy and pace of Maya hieroglyphic decipherment. We believe that this online Dictionary reflects the wonderful tradition of cooperation and collaboration among Mayanists, and we hope that it will be of use to all those who share our awe and wonder at the magnificent achievements of the Maya people.

Montgomery, John
2002 Dictionary of Maya Hieroglyphs.
New York: Hippocrene Books.

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