Photo of Madrid Codex

"There are only 3 pre-Columbian Maya books, dated to the Postclassic, that have survived to the present day. They are now known as the Dresden, Madrid, and Paris codices, named for the cities where they now reside. The Dresden Codex can be characterized as a treatise on divination and astronomy. The Madrid Codex, likewise, is devoted to horoscopes and almanacs to assist the Maya priests in their divinations and ceremonies. What we have of the Paris Codex is also ritualistic; it also contains a depiction of the still poorly interpreted Maya zodiac.

Knowledge of Maya writing did not long survive the Spanish Conquest, owing to the diligence of church and government officials who rooted out any manifestations of this visible symbol of "paganism." Diego de Landa, in a passage that ironically accompanies his invaluable eye witness description of Maya writing, described his own role in its suppression: "We found a large number of these books in these characters and, as they contained nothing in which there was not to be seen superstition and lies of the devil, we burned them all, which they regretted to an amazing degree and which caused them great affliction."

Robert Sharer, The Ancient Maya, p. 513

This is our friend Jeff Purcell photographing the Madrid Codex at the Museum of the Americas in Madrid. Note that Jeff's image is reflecting back at us from the glass...