Mexican experts: nearly 1,000-year-old Maya text authentic

Mexico's National Anthropology and History Institute says it was made between 1021 and 1154 A.D., is the oldest known pre-Hispanic text, and will now be known as the "Mexico Maya Codex." (INAH/AP)
Updated 02 September 2018
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Mexican experts: nearly 1,000-year-old Maya text authentic

  • The 10 surviving pages of the tree-bark folding “book” will now be known as the Mexico Maya Codex
  • The fact that it was looted and had a simpler design than other surviving texts had led some to doubt its authenticity

MEXICO CITY: Fifty-four years after it was sold by looters, an ancient Maya pictographic text was judged authentic by scholars Thursday.
Mexico’s National Institute of History and Anthropology said the calendar-style text was made between 1021 and 1154 A.D. and is the oldest known pre-Hispanic document.
The 10 surviving pages of the tree-bark folding “book” will now be known as the Mexico Maya Codex. It had been known as the Grolier Codex. It may have originally had 20 pages, but some were lost after centuries in a cave in southern Chiapas state.
It contains a series of observations and predictions related to the astral movement of Venus. Mayan texts are written in a series of syllabic glyphs, in which a stylized painted figure often stands for a syllable.
A Mexican collector bought it in 1964, and it was first exhibited at the Grolier Club in New York in 1971.
Collector Josue Saenz returned the book to Mexican authorities in 1974.
The fact that it was looted and had a simpler design than other surviving texts had led some to doubt its authenticity.
“Its style differs from other Maya codex that are known and proven authentic,” the institute said in a statement. About three other later Maya “books” survived an attempt by Spanish conquerors to destroy Mayan artifacts in the 1500s.
But the institute said Thursday that because the book was written so early, it had been created in an era of relative poverty compared to the other works. It said a series of chemical tests proved the authenticity of the pages and the pre-Hispanic inks used to write it.
While previous studies had supported the authenticity of the text, it was the end of decades of doubts for the book.
“For a long time, critics of the codex said the style wasn’t Mayan and that it was ‘the ugliest’ of them in terms of figures and color,” said institute researcher Sofia Martinez del Campo. “But the austerity of the work is explained by its epoch, when things are scarce one uses what one has at hand.”


All-star Mary Poppins sequel flies into view

Updated 18 September 2018
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All-star Mary Poppins sequel flies into view

  • The movie includes mixed live-action and animation scenes that are reminiscent of those that were cutting edge in the mid-1960s
  • “Mary Poppins Returns” is set for a pre-Christmas release in Britain and the United States

A view across the grimy rooftops of London? A nanny descending to earth with a flying umbrella? Dick Van Dyke? All are present and correct in the trailer for the “Mary Poppins” reboot that was released on Tuesday.
Julie Andrews, who won the 1965 Best Actress Oscar for her performance in the original, is replaced in “Mary Poppins Returns” by Emily Blunt as the unconventional governess who arrives as if by magic to heal a family in need of love.
In the sequel, it is 1932 and the boy, Michael Banks, has grown up and, helped by his sister Jane, is bringing up children of his own, in the absence of their mother.
The trailer gives few other clues to the plot of the musical, but showcases a stellar cast of British acting talent, including Ben Whishaw, Colin Firth and Julie Walters.
Meryl Streep also features, as does Dick Van Dyke who played the chimney sweep Bert with the so-bad-it’s-good cockney accent in the original. Now 92, the trailer shows him as lithe as ever, dancing on a table.
The Bert character — Jack in this film — is played by Lin-Manuel Miranda, the rapper and composer who created the acclaimed musical “Hamilton.”
The movie includes mixed live-action and animation scenes that are reminiscent of those that were cutting edge in the mid-1960s but have a retro-charm now.
The original movie was based on the children’s books by P.L. Travers who famously objected to Walt Disney’s embellishments to her stories. It was a huge success and became a classic.
“Mary Poppins Returns” is set for a pre-Christmas release in Britain and the United States.