…five years ago, Stuart started up Maya Decipherment, a blog for scholars and amateurs to post new inscriptions, refine translations and debate the subtleties of Maya language, all in an effort to fill out the history of the civilization. The work will take years, but with the help of the Internet, the pace is quicker than it has ever been.
“The Web log gets ideas out quickly, which is very appealing,” said Brown University archaeologist Stephen Houston, a longtime Stuart collaborator. “You don’t have to wait two years for publication. You want to lay claim to a new idea and get it noticed by colleagues.”
Last month, for instance, Stuart posted a description of new excavations from Guatemala that suggest the Maya were not necessarily direct descendants of the earlier Olmec culture, as some archaeologists have maintained. In another post, he described how the sign for the phonetic syllable “yo,” meaning “his” or “her,” might be the word symbol “yop,” meaning “leaf,” in other texts.