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The History Kid

[Quick Facts] The Dresden Codex

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Discovered sometime in the sixteenth or seventeenth century, the Dresden Codex is the oldest known book to have survived in the Americas.  Dating to approximately the thirteen century, the Codex is the center of many various stories and folklore.  Mayan in origin, this text was one of several texts that were referenced in connection with the 2012 Phenomena that was popular from the 1970s through the passing of 2012.  Such doomsday stories were made in connection with page 71 of the codex which depicts a serpent - identified as the Moon Goddess (or Goddess O) - spewing forth a torrent from the heavens.  However, there is not connection or reference to a date with anything on this page.  

In addition, of the entirety of the codex, most pages appear to be that of an almanac.  The almanac refers to a series of climatological information (much in the same way that our own almanacs are used today), and various ritualistic practices.  This leads one to suspect that the codex may have had the primary function of serving as a reference for shaman or leaders to practice rituals in the event of abnormal weather.  Researcher Michael Coe made an initial claim in his interpretation of the codex, however, that page 71 depicted a cataclysmic event connected somehow with the thirteenth cycle known as the baktun.  However, in subsequent revisions of Coe's research, he rescinded his commentary on the interpretation.  Likewise, Eric Thompson, another known Mesoamerican researcher, noted that the inclusion of Goddess O in the codex indicates that page 71 is attached to the initiation of a growing season.

Likewise, while the termination of the thirteenth baktun is described in the codex, it does not mention anything special about the transition from the thirteenth to fourteenth cycle.  Nowhere in Mayan mythology or record keeping are there any mentions of destruction attached to the change of a baktun cycle.  What the Codex does indicate, however, is that the current world was created with motion and will be destroyed in that same motion.  What exactly that entails, we do not know - and whether the Mayan knew is also unknown.  Nevertheless, the Dresden Codex remains of prominent interest to researchers of Mesoamerican culture due to its age and significance in Mayan culture in the pre-Colonial era.

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