Friday, September 9, 2016

The Secret Codex of a Lost Civilisation Being Hidden Beneath a 16th Century Manuscript for 500 Years


Codex Selden – Lost Civilisation in Mexico

Research scrutinized a manuscript known as the Codex Selden dating around 1560 and is said to be one of the less than 20 Mexican codices which has survived from the pre-Columbian period. For almost 500 years, the contents had been unsatisfyingly concealed by a layer of plaster covering the details of a lost civilization which had existed in Mexico before the arrival of the Spanish.

However due to a new imaging technique, for the first time, historians can go through the material on top to disclose a series of pictograms on the deer underneath. This has provided them with a glimpse at the culture and history of the early Mexican civilisation which was known as the Mixtec.

However experts suspect that the codex could have been formed from a much older document which had been covered up to arrange for a new surface for writing. The document which is 16 feet long is composed of deer hide which is covered with gesso, said to be a white plaster made from gypsum and chalk before it is folded into a 20 page manuscript. The plaster had been scraped away in the 1950s to expose a vague image on the deer hide below though no further work has been revealed as to what lies below for fear of damaging the same.

Hyperspectral Imaging

However, researchers at Leiden University in the Netherlands, who have been working with the historians at Bodleian Libraries at Oxford University, housing the Codex Selden, have located a way of seeing through the plaster. Their discovery had been published in the Journal of Archaeological Sciences.

The technique utilised was known as hyperspectral imaging to reveal the outline of vivid pictogram which were on the original document.David Howell, head of heritage science at the Bodleian Libraries also involved in the research stated that `hyperspectal imaging has portrayed great promise in helping to begin to reconstruct the story of the hidden codex and finally to recover new information regarding Mixtex history and archaeology.

It is a new technique and they have learned valuable lessons on how to utilise hyperspectral imaging in the future for very fragile manuscript as well as for countless others like it. An archaeologist at Leiden University, Ludo Snijders, leading the work had informed MailOnline that they are now for the first time capable of revealing at least in part, the images of the palimpsest without the fear of damaging the object.

Genealogy Appear Unique

He further added that `what’s interesting is that the text found does not match that of the other early Mixtec manuscripts. The genealogy seen appears to be unique which means it may prove invaluable for the interpretation of archaeological remains from southern Mexico’.

Seven of the pages of the codex had been analysed by the researchers and some of the pages featured over 20 characters sitting or standing though all seemed to be looking in the same direction. Similar scenes were also located on other Mixtex manuscripts that typically represent a King with his council. Scrutiny of the characters concealed under the Codex Selden exposed though that they portrayed a mixture of male as well as female characters and the same has perplexed scientists on what the text could be illustrating.

 Besides this, there were other imaged comprising of people walking with sticks and spears, women with red hair or headdresses and glyphs illustrating a river which seems to be names of place.The imaging also disclosed a prominent individual who is seen recurrently on the document and is represented by a big glyph comprising of a twisted cord and a flint knife.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.