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Códice Maya de México: Understanding the Oldest Surviving Book of the Americas

Available October 2022

Edited by Andrew D. Turner

Ancient Maya scribes recorded prophecies and astronomical observations on the pages of painted books. Although most were lost to decay or destruction, three pre-Hispanic Maya codices were known to have survived, when, in the 1960s, a fourth book that differed from the others appeared in Mexico under mysterious circumstances. After fifty years of debate over its authenticity, recent investigations using cutting-edge scientific and art historical analyses determined that Códice Maya de México (formerly known as Grolier Codex) is in fact the oldest surviving book of the Americas, predating all others by at least two hundred years. 

This volume provides a multifaceted introduction to the creation, discovery, interpretation, and scientific authentication of Códice Maya de México. In addition, a full-color facsimile and a page-by-page guide to the iconography make the codex accessible to a wide audience. Additional topics include the uses and importance of sacred books in Mesoamerica, the role of astronomy in ancient Maya societies, and the codex’s continued relevance to contemporary Maya communities.

This volume is published to accompany an exhibition on view at the J. Paul Getty Museum at the Getty Center from October 18, 2022, to January 15, 2023.

Andrew D. Turner is a senior research specialist at the Getty Research Institute.

96 pages
6 x 9 inches
45 color and 7 b/w illustrations, 1 map
ISBN 978-1-60606-788-8

Getty Publications
Imprint: Getty Research Institute/J. Paul Getty Museum