Fwd: Mayan numerals

From: Jameson Quinn <jameson.quinn_at_gmail.com>
Date: Mon, 24 Sep 2012 12:16:04 -0600

(Resend; last time bounced due to photo attachment)

So, I see that this thread is heating up again, and a progress report is in

   - I still intend to present a proposal in the time frame I gave before:
   within this b'ak'tun (5000 year period... that is, by the end of the year).
   I have been looking for examples of use.
   - The acquaintances I contacted at the two publishing houses that
   regularly use these symbols said they'd get back to me, but haven't.
   - Also, I met a web developer who said he'd made a module for his wiki
   which auto-converted regular numbers into Mayan numerals (vertical bars,
   RTL text flow; unlike the more-common case of horizontal bars, top to
   bottom flow). This wiki is unfortunately defunct.
   - I've looked around a bit at ancient uses, insofar as that's easily
   available on the web.
   - In petroglyphs from the classic era, it is far more common to find the
   numbers incorporated into glyphs (such as date glyphs), with vertical bars.
   Also the cloverleaf zero is common in classic numbers, and often mixes in
   the same inscription with the shell zero.
   - In codices (postclassic), usage is more similar to modern.
   Vertical-barred numbers are still present in dates, but the naked
   horizontal-barred numbers, square-spaced numbers are common. I'm not enough
   of an expert to know how the text flow is working, but if I'm right that
   successive digits are alternating colors (red, black, red, black) then
   there are examples of both horizontal flow, vertical flow, and 2-by-2
   vertical flow. Also, just as in modern usage, I haven't seen any cloverleaf
   - I've seen nothing to suggest to me that the "face" forms of the digits
   are ever mixed with the dots-and-bars forms. I believe that for ancient,
   and certainly for modern, purposes we can ignore the "face" forms.
   - I'm enclosing a picture of the bills
<http://picpaste.com/billetes.jpg>I happen to have around right now.
There's one of every bill in current use
   (1,5,10,20,100,200) except the 50. As you can see (assuming this comes
   through on the list; otherwise, just google "billetes quetzal"), all 3 of
   the bills with a 0 use noticeably different variations of the "shell zero"
   glyph. The 20 and 100 have two stripes in their zeros, the 200 has four of
   them in its. (The 10 and 50, of course, have no zero in base 20)

Do people think I should include any of this investigation of ancient usage
in my proposal? How many examples of modern usage, aside from currency, are
worth including in a proposal, assuming that they will take me an hour or
two each to find distinct uses, or a day or two to go visit the publishers
and get unlimited examples?

As to the debate about whether these are worth encoding now, I certainly
believe that the answer is yes. As others have said, whether or not you
think it's probable that these modern characters will end up being usable
in encoding ancient text, their usefulness now is in no doubt.

Received on Mon Sep 24 2012 - 13:21:05 CDT

This archive was generated by hypermail 2.2.0 : Mon Sep 24 2012 - 13:21:06 CDT