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HAD News

Thursday, November 15, 2012 - 15:05

Harvey and Victoria Bricker Awarded the 2013 Donald E. Osterbrock Book Prize for Astronomy in the Maya Codices

The AAS Historical Astronomy Division’s Donald E. Osterbrock Book Prize for 2013 will be awarded to Harvey M. Bricker and Victoria R. Bricker for Astronomy in the Maya Codices (Philadelphia: American Philosophical Society, 2011). The prize is for “the author(s) of the book judged to best advance the field of the history of astronomy or to bring history of astronomy to light.” The Brickers will receive their award on Monday afternoon, 7 January 2013, at a HAD session at the 221st AAS meeting in Long Beach, California, after which the Brickers will give their Osterbrock prize lecture, “Astronomical Records in the Hieroglyphic Writings of the Pre-Columbian Maya.”

During the conquest of the New World, nearly all of the written works of the Maya of Central and North America were destroyed. Fortunately for historians of astronomy, four major works survived that provide a window into Mayan astronomy: the Dresden Codex, the Grolier Codex, the Madrid Codex, and the Paris Codex. Astronomy in the Maya Codices brings together in one volume everything that is known about astronomy in these screen-fold hieroglyphic books.

The culmination of 30 years of collaborative research, this volume presents the Mayan glyphs, the calendar and counting system, the planetary cycles and their relations to the Mayan agricultural cycle, solar and lunar eclipse cycles, and more. The Brickers also include information from the other remaining codices, from artwork and engravings on stone monuments, and from Mayan myths and legends, while continually engaging with the research done by previous scholars as well as our modern understanding of the night sky. The Brickers have been thorough and exact in their research. They have created a definitive volume that will please experts on the Maya as well as historians of astronomy.

Harvey Bricker and Victoria Bricker are professors emeriti at Tulane University and are also courtesy professors of anthropology and research associates of the Florida Museum of Natural History at the University of Florida. Victoria Bricker earned her PhD in anthropology from Harvard. She has published consistently on the Mayan people. Her research into the astronomy of the Maya began with a study of the eclipse tables found in the Dresden Codex in the early 1980s. Harvey Bricker earned his PhD in anthropology from Harvard as well. His career includes studies of Paleolithic archaeological sites in France. He began collaborating with Victoria Bricker on the Maya astronomy materials in the 1980s. Astronomy in the Maya Codices contains all of their scientific findings from their previous works on the astronomy of the Maya as well as their analyses of other scholars’ findings and their new discoveries about the remaining codices.

This volume is ideal for teaching a section if not an entire class on Mayan astronomy because it requires no other text or articles: it is all here.

 

 

Jarita Holbrook
University of the Western Cape
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