What is a Glyph?; Gold Coins from Jerusalem; Komchén, Yucatán, Mexico.

What is a Glyph?

A glyph is best described as writing or communicating in picture. They can be painted, carved or inscribed. There are three main categories that come under this one general heading and they are

  • Hieroglyphs
  • Pictographs, and
  • Petroglyphs

The best known glyphs are the Egyptian hieroglyphs and the Mayan glyphs.

Egyptian Heiroglyphs Public Domain
Egyptian Heiroglyphs
Public Domain

The sets of symbols represent images or designs, and can convey ideas, words, syllables, sounds, or a collection of all of these. Within archaeology the word Glyph was first used in the 1840’s for the first pictorial symbols discovered. The oldest in the world belong to the Egyptian, Sumerian and Akkadian civilizations.

Mayan Stela Public Domain
Mayan Stela
Public Domain

The glyphs are beleived to have been used for social organization in terms of military rankings, laws, trade, illustrating important events that were recorded, and to give details of the lives of the elite people who were in charge.

Petroglyphs from Coso Rock Art National Historic Landmark in the Mojave Desert Public Domain
Petroglyphs from Coso Rock Art National Historic Landmark in the Mojave Desert
Public Domain

They also illustrated aspects of life at the time they were developed, which included showing animals and plants – giving archaeologists a glimpse into the past as to people’s lives and how they lived.

Understanding and studying glyphs is an important part of archaeology and an area that can be studied on its own within the discipline.

References

  • Blake. B. E., & Blake. R. W. 2002. Literacy and Learning: A Reference Handbook. Santa Barbara, CA: ACC-CLIO.
  • Hassig. R. 2013. Time, History, and Belief in Aztec and Colonial Mexico. Texas: University of Texas Press.
  • Renfrew. C., & Bahn. P. 2008. Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practice. London: Thames & Hudson.
  • Wallis Budge. E. A. 2010. Egyptian Language: Easy Lessons in Egyptian Hieroglyphics with Sign List. New York: Cosimo, Inc.

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Archaeology Wow!! –  Gold Coins from Jerusalem

In 2013 a hoard of gold coins was found under a car park in Jerusalem during archaeological excavations.

Ms Ross, an engineer for BMW, had been volunteering at the site for the past month and found the coins in the last week of her stay in Israel. Photo REUTERS
Ms Ross, an engineer for BMW, had been volunteering at the site for the past month and found the coins in the last week of her stay in Israel. Photo REUTERS

The coins were an important find for archaeology – as with all excavations, it is not what you find, but where you find it and how it relates to the area it was found in and the period from which it came.

This particular hoard was found in an area where a building once stood, and as no pottery sherds were uncovered with them, or anywhere near them, it is believed that the coins were hidden in a secret place, either in the wall or buried in the floor, to stop someone from finding them. The coins are all 24 carat gold and possibly date to the 6th century, a time when the Persians were waging war in the area.

An awesome find and it is amazing how well they look after about 1,300 years!!

References

 

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Archaeological Site Guide – Komchén, Yucatán, Mexico

Komchén is an archaeological site situated on the north side of the Yucatán peninsula in Mexico.

Map of Mexico
Yucatan Peninsula, Mexico

Excavations first commenced in the 1980’s by the Tulane University Middle American Research Institute, and it was discovered that the site dates from the Preclassic Mayan Period – 950-400 BCE. This was a time when the major centers were showing a decline, yet there were advances technologically in metallurgy, tools, engineering, agriculture and weaponry, around this particular area.

Komchen ©es.touristlink.com
Komchen
©es.touristlink.com

Excavations have revealed over 1000 homes of which just over 500 have now been mapped; 5 large platforms; a sacbe (raised paved road); wells; and monumental structures which when complete would have stood 8 m high.

The finds tell us that this was an early Middle Preclassic Mayan town which had a large public plaza, was densely populated, and that the inhabitants relied upon wells for their water supply.

Archaeological vestiges in Komchén ( Merida ) , Yucatán. Public Domain
Archaeological vestiges in Komchén ( Merida ) , Yucatán.
Public Domain

This looks like a really amazing site and the above image shows there is still a lot of work that can be done  to uncover more of its secrets from the past!

References

  • Tsukamoto. K., & Inomata. T. 2014. Mesoamerican Plazas: Arenas of Community and Power. Arizona: University of Arizona Press.
  • Witschey. W. R. T., & Brown. C. T. 2012. Historical Dictionary of Mesoamerica. Lanham, MD: Scarecrow Press.

 

 

Great Books to Read…….
                

                 

Great Web Pages to Look At…….

Activity – Word Search 1 May 2015

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