Parution : Their way of writing : scripts, signs, and pictographies in Pre-Columbian America

Their way of writing
Their way of writing


  • Elizabeth Hill Boone is Martha and Donald Robertson Chair in Latin American Art at Tulane University.
  • Gary Urton is Dumbarton Oaks Professor of Pre-Columbian Studies in the Department of Anthropology at Harvard University.
  • Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos is Assistant Professor of Anthropology and Archaeology at Yale University.
  • Stephen D. Houston is Dupee Family Professor of Social Sciences and Professor of Anthropology at Brown University.
  • Frank Salomon is Professor of Anthropology at the University of Wisconsin, Madison.
  • Margaret A. Jackson
  • Federico Navarrete
  • Michel R. Oudijk

Résumé de l’éditeur

Writing and recording are key cultural activities that allow humans to communicate across time and space. Whereas Old World writing evolved into the alphabetic system that is now employed around the world, the indigenous peoples in the Americas autonomously developed alternative systems that conveyed knowledge in a tangible medium. New World systems range from the hieroglyphic script of the Maya, to the figural and iconic pictographies of the Aztecs, Mixtecs, and Zapotecs in Mexico and the Moche in Peru, to the abstract knotted khipus of the Andes. Like Old World writing, these systems represented a cultural category that was fundamental to the workings of their societies, one that was heavily impregnated with cultural value.

Based on papers presented at the Pre-Columbian Studies Symposium Scripts, Signs, and Notational Systems in Pre-Columbian America held at Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C., on October 11-12, 2008. The fifteen contributors to Their Way of Writing: Scripts, Signs, and Pictographies in Pre-Columbian America consider substantive and theoretical issues concerning writing and signing systems in the ancient Americas. They present the latest thinking about these graphic and tactile systems of communication. Their variety of perspectives and their advances in decipherment and understanding constitute a major contribution not only to our understanding of Pre-Columbian and indigenous American cultures but also to our comparative and global understanding of writing and literacy.


  • Foreword / Joanne Pillsbury
  • Their way of writing : scripts, signs, and pictographies in pre-Columbian America / Gary Urton
  • The Cold War and the Maya decipherment / Michael D. Coe
  • All things must change : Maya writing over time and space / Stephen D. Houston
  • The flowering glyphs : animation in Cotzumalhuapa writing / Oswaldo Chinchilla Mazariegos
  • Teotihuacan and the development of writing in early classic central Mexico / Karl Taube
  • The written surface as a cultural code : a comparative perspective of scribal traditions from southwestern Mesoamerica / Javier Urcid
  • Elaboration and abbreviation in Mexican pictorial manuscripts : their use in literary themes / Michel R. Oudijk
  • Writing, images, and time-space in Aztec monuments and books / Federico Navarrete
  • Ruptures and unions : graphic complexity and hybridity in sixteenth-century Mexico / Elizabeth Hill Boone
  • Moche as visual notation : semasiographic elements in Moche ceramic imagery / Margaret A. Jackson
  • Chuquibamba textiles and their interacting systems of notation : the case of multiple exact calendars / R. Tom Zuidema
  • Tocapu : what is it, what does it do, and why is it not a knot? / Thomas B.F. Cummins
  • Khipu typologies / Gary Urton ; Carrie J. Brezine
  • Khipu from colony to republic : the Rapaz patrimony / Frank Salomon ; Carrie J. Brezine ; Reymundo Chapa ; Víctor Falcón Huayta
  • The cultural category of scripts, signs, and pictographies / Elizabeth Hill Boone 

Informations pratiques

  • Éditeur : Washington, D.C. : Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection
  • Date de parution : 2011
  • Description matérielle : 1 vol. (X-412 p.) : ill. en noir et en coul., cartes ill. et en coul. ; 29 cm
  • Collection : (Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian symposia and colloquia)
  • ISBN 9780884023685 (hardcover) (alk. paper). – ISBN 0884023680 (hardcover) (alk. paper)


  • PARIS-BnF : Tolbiac – Rez-de-jardin – magasin : 2014-61567
Their way of writing
Their way of writing

Citer ce billet
Olivier Jacquot (2020, 29 octobre). Parution : Their way of writing : scripts, signs, and pictographies in Pre-Columbian America. Amoxcalli. Consulté le 28 février 2024, à l’adresse

Olivier Jacquot

Chargé de collections : manuscrits des fonds américains, Service des manuscrits ORientaux (SOR), département des Manuscrits (MSS), Bibliothèque nationale de France (BnF)

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