Cracking the Maya Code coming to PBS TV – April 8, 2008

Mark the calendars — David LeBrun’s magnificent new documentary Cracking the Maya Code is set for broadcast on PBS’s Nova series this coming April 8 at 8 PM EST. The film, produced by Night Fire Films, is based on Mike Coe’s vivid book on the history of Maya glyph decipherment, Breaking the Maya Code. David showed a two-hour version of the film at the recent Maya Meetings held in Austin, and received a much-deserved standing ovation.

Nova will broadcast an edited one-hour version, and is set to launch their full website on March 25. The preliminary website says…

“Cracking the Maya Code” is a definitive look back at how a handful of pioneers deciphered the intricate system of hieroglyphs developed by the Maya civilization. Based on the book Breaking the Maya Code by Michael Coe, this is one of the greatest detective stories in all of archeology, and it has never been told in depth on television before. With magnificent footage of Maya temples and art, this documentary has been many years in the making and culminates in the fascinating account of this once-magnificent ancient civilization’s ingenious method of communication.

UPDATE (3/27): The full Nova website is now up, though I haven’t looked it over closely yet.

10 thoughts on “Cracking the Maya Code coming to PBS TV – April 8, 2008

  1. Tony March 26, 2008 / 12:25 PM

    I inquired from Night Fire Films and in a couple of months they will have the 2 hour version of “Cracking the Maya Code” available on DVD.

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  3. santhosh April 9, 2008 / 12:46 AM

    I am watching your work on PBS right now. What you have done is amazing.. the passion with which you’ve pursued the Mayan glyphs / phonetics is most inspiring.

    After the library of alexandria was destroy, we as a humanity lost about 100 years of progress..

    Wonder what we missed after the destruction of Mayan books.

  4. Bart April 9, 2008 / 3:59 AM

    I just got through watching the one hour version of the show on PBS. It started out very strong and got a little boring towards the end. I was hoping that they would talk a little about what so many of us are interested in, the date December 21st, 2012…

  5. jean coyne April 10, 2008 / 9:59 PM

    I was completely fascinated by the program. I have been to many of the sites and only wish I had the information before I went. It was truly inspiring. And, we think we’re so smart. Bravo!

  6. Lukas Bux April 14, 2008 / 5:25 PM

    How great to find a blog about Maya decipherment with your involvement. I just got finished watching the PBS show for the 2nd time. Contrary to the criticism above, I found it riveting all the way through.

  7. John Heaton April 21, 2008 / 1:30 AM

    I loved this program! I am fascinated with mesoamerican cultures, especially the mayan. Your work is amazing. I even printed the transcript of the program. Something I’ve never done for any other “good” program and doubt I’ll do again. The reason I did this is I wanted to exact wording of the translation for the “+” glyph that was translated “and then it happened”. I have one question for you I’d really like answered, purely to satisfy my curiosity. Could that glyph be translated “and it came to pass”?
    Thanks for your hard work and dedication. I hope to read more of your translations in the future.

  8. Jamie M. Forbes April 6, 2010 / 2:36 AM

    I was reading the book for maybe the second orthird time.

    Came upon the part about the kawkawau glyph and happened to glance across our small New York apartment and see lined up a version of the chocolate glyph on a presumably Peten bowl [cream coated], which led me to believe, from the other glyphs. the bowl spelled out a recipe for chocolate-corn pudding.


    Even here. I don’t know offhand how many unprovenanced works are in this apartment. [From Maya, at least a couple of dozen; Mexica. Zapoteca, proto-Inca, many more.] I got them either from antiques dealers who specialized in other areas or people who were selling off dead parents’ estates. I’d gather it was all legal at the time. I mean that.

    One of the best ones is a jug in the shape of a cacao pod. Open top on the nozzle, main part goes lengthwise. My first guess is that it might have held already-fermented cacao beans. Prior to preparation.

    I have to do work now — punk psychology for allegedly public consumption.

    –Jamie M. Forbes, BA Washington University; MA Graduate Faculty for Political and Social Science at the New School for Social Research. Degrees are in psychology. Studied Maya epigraphy with Kornelis Kurbjuhn.

    Done a lot of science writing.

    You can email me, if you like, at JamieMScribe at gmail dot com. I have to go write now.

  9. mark kennedy April 30, 2010 / 7:19 PM

    “Cracking the Maya Code” is a great program. You can watch the full episode online here:

    Click on the NOVA icon.

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