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The Codex Tro-Cortesianus, folios 10-11
  • Jacob S. Neely, University of Kentucky

The Codex Tro-Cortesianus (ca. 1200-1400)

The Codex Tro-Cortesianus, or Madrid, is possibly the oldest codex in this exhibit. There is some debate surrounding its production date but it contains almanacs that refer to years as far back as the tenth century. Scholars believe it is either from the northwestern Yucatán region of Mexico or northern Guatemala.

Along with the Codices Paris, Dresden, and Grolier (not featured in this exhibit), this is one of the only four legible pre-Hispanic Maya Codices. Others are unearthed from time to time, but are often too deteriorated to handle.

Telling Maya and other codices apart is actually simple, because the Maya languages use hieroglyphic syllabaries. That is, the series of linear glyphs that you can observe on the pages most often represent consonant-vowel clusters (displayed: folios 10-11).

However, despite employing different stylistic conventions, the Tro-Cortesianus performs many of the same generic functions the Mesoamerican codices as a whole. For example, it contains its own 260-day almanac, but refers to it in Maya as the tzolkin instead of the Nahuatl tonalpohualli. Similarly, it contains a solar haab calendar of 365 days, or a xiuhpohualli.

Which of the four categories of CONTINUITY apply to the Codex Tro-Cortesianus?


Leibsohn, Dana. “Writing Systems: Maya Systems.” The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 13 Sep. 2018.

Pool, Christopher and Barry Kidder. “Codex Madrid, p.50-51.”A Glimpse into Ancient Mexico: Writings of the Aztecs, Mixtec, and Maya. Sep. 2013-Present. University of Kentucky Special Collections, Lexington, KY. 13 Sep. 2018.

Vail, Gabrielle. "Madrid, Codex." The Oxford Encyclopedia of Mesoamerican Cultures. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2006. 13 Sep. 2018.

Valero de García Lascuráin, Ana Rita. Entre Códices. México: Universidad Anáhuac México Norte, 2012, pp. 36-40.

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All scans courtesy of University of Kentucky Special Collections Research Center and carried out by Jacob S. Neely.

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Citation Information
Jacob S. Neely. "The Codex Tro-Cortesianus, folios 10-11" (2018)
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