For the full story of the Maya decipherment, we encourage you to read Michael D. Coe’s Breaking the Maya Code, published by Thames and Hudson (available from the publisher, our online store and bookstores everywhere). It’s lucid, fun, and thrilling, a great scientific detective story full of vivid personalities. Read it and you’ll understand why we thought it would make a great movie!
For further exploration, here are some excellent online resources:
www.famsi.org has great online libraries of original materials. Look under Resources / Drawings for Linda Schele and John Montgomery’s drawings of Maya inscriptions. Under Resources / Kerr you’ll find Justin Kerr’s vast database of rollout photographs of royal painted Maya vases, a fabulous trove of great art and the largest single body of known Maya inscriptions. Under Writing / Maya / Codices / Graz you will find complete facsimiles of three of the four known Maya books – the Dresden, Madrid and Paris Codices. And that’s just scratching the surface; the site is packed with research reports, maps, bibliographies, dictionaries and other resources on the Maya and other Mesoamerican cultures.
www.mesoweb.com has more excellent resources, especially related to the work of Merle Greene Robertson and her Precolumbian Art Research Institute (PARI). Under Resources / Palenque is a great deal of info on the history of the site and on PARI’s recent excavations, including the 1999 excavation of a limestone panel and carved stone bench in Temple XIX, as shown in the film Breaking the Maya Code. Under Resources / Rubbings of Maya Sculpture you’ll find the story of Merle’s heroic struggle to record and preserve Maya reliefs and inscriptions.
www.pbs.org/wgbh/nova/mayacode is the web site of “Cracking the Maya Code”, the NOVA program adapted from Breaking the Maya Code. Its features include a time line of the decipherment and a detailed step-by-step walk through the text of Piedras Negras Stela 3.