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Gabrielle Vail
Unicode Consortium (Mountain View, CA 94043-3941)
Analysis and Commentary of Ritual Texts in the Maya Madrid Codex

This project builds on research conducted in conjunction with NEH collaborative grant RZ-20724-01 (July 2001-December 2002) which provided funding for 1) the development and implementation of an on-line database of the Madrid Codex (, and 2) an analysis of calendrical interrelationships present in the codex in preparation for writing a commentary of this Postclassic (c.14th-15th century) Maya document. The purpose of the proposed project is to prepare a draft for publication of the first part of the commentary, which focuses on ritual texts in the Madrid Codex. Using an interpretive model developed during the tenure of the previous grant, the commentary will examine how the different "almanacs" in the codex interrelate and were used to schedule ritual celebrations over the course of a period of years. This model, which is at odds with traditional interpretations of an almanac's structure, allows the possibility of relating the codical texts to ethnohistoric and ethnographic sources about Maya rituals. Not only will the commentary challenge previous assumptions about the manuscript, but it will offer an innovative look at how the codices were structured and how they functioned in Postclassic Maya society, questions that are of interest to scholars but are also relevant beyond the academic community--i.e., to contemporary descendants of the Postclassic Maya and to a more general audience with an interest in studies of history, non-Western culture, and religion.

[Grant products]

Project fields:

Fellowships for College Teachers and Independent Scholars

Research Programs

$40,000 (approved)
$40,000 (awarded)

Grant period:
5/1/2004 – 1/31/2005