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Sacred Maya Texts

Despite the Spaniards' destruction of ancient hieroglyphic texts, Maya literature did not disappear. A strong oral tradition continued, and Maya priests and scribes, who had learned to write their languages with the Latin alphabet, recorded their ancestors' stories and historical narratives. In the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, scholars from Europe and the U.S. discovered their manuscripts or copies of them and issued print editions, which circulated the sacred texts beyond their native lands. The Popol Vuh (1861), the Rabinal Achí (1862), The Annals of the Cakchiquels (1885), the Chilam Balam of Chumayel (1913), and other later scholarly editions were crucial in creating an awareness of Maya literature's greatness outside the Maya world.