The scientific tourist #356 — pseudoglyphs

It may be that when you look at this vessel, you’re thinking two things:

1) The decoration on it looks Mayan

2) You can’t read any of it


If so, you’re right on both counts — it’s a Mayan vessel, but the decoration on it only looks like Mayan hieroglyphs.  Basically, it’s Mayan-themed gibberish.

The fake glyphs are known as pseudoglyphs, and only imitate Maya writing. It’s speculated that artists who could not read or write made these vessels for people who were not members of the ruling class and could also not read or write.  This particular illiterate ceramic was found near Copan, Honduras — and is currently on display at the Field Museum of Natural History in Chicago, Illinois.

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