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MAAYA: Multimedia Analysis and Access for Documentation and Decipherment of Maya Epigraphy (March 2013 - March 2016)


The Project

The Abteilung für Altamerikanistik of the University of Bonn has partnered with the University of Geneva and the Idiap Research Institute, Martigny (Switzerland) to undertake an international and multidisciplinary research and collaboration effort sponsored by both the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG) and the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The MAAYA Project uniquely blends together the combined expertise of these three research centers in the fields of Cultural Heritage, Digital Humanities and Computer Vision and Multimedia Information Retrieval.
The MAAYA Project aims to provide scholars and the interested public with advanced tools for systematic studies and visualization —including an intelligent database with advanced query capabilities and a comprehensive databank of vectorial images—  centered on the most significant hieroglyphic texts and iconography produced by the ancient Maya civilization within the northern lowland region of Yucatan during Precolumbian times, including the three extant Maya codices preserved in Dresden, Madrid and Paris, as well as the sculptural and the ceramic corpus of such major sites as Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Ek Balam, Mayapan, Xcalumkin, Edzna, Oxkintok and several others.

Research Goals

The main research goals of the MAAYA Project are: (1) jointly design, develop, and assess new computational tools that robustly and effectively support the work of Maya hieroglyphics experts; (2) advance the state of Maya epigraphy through the combination of expert knowledge and the advanced use of these tools; and (3) make these new resources and knowledge available to the scholar community through the creation of an online system (which to our knowledge would be one of a kind) that would allow for search, comparison, annotation, and visualization tasks as part of new investigations worldwide.

The Team

The Team at the University of Bonn is led by Prof. Dr. Nikolai Grube (Project MAAYA Co-Principal Investigator) and is conformed of three Research Associates, epigraphers Carlos Pallán Gayol (Doctoral Candidate); Guido Krempel (M.A.) and Dr. Peter Biró.
The overall MAAYA Project is led by Principal Investigator, Dr. Daniel Gatica-Perez (Idiap) together with Project Co-Principal Investigators Dr. Stephane Marchand-Maillet (University of Geneva), Dr. Jean-Marc Odobez (Idiap) and Prof. Dr. Grube (University of Bonn).  Aside from the above-mentioned team working at the University of Bonn, the MAAYA Project also incorporates Research Associates from the University of Geneva (Dr. Edgar Roman-Rangel, April Morton, M.S., and Dr. Oscar Dabrowski) and from the Idiap Research Institute (Dr. Rui Hu and Gulcan  Can, M.S.). (see complete listing of the MAAYA Project researchers here)

Financial Support

As a significant player within a larger international team, the University of Bonn contributes to the overall MAAYA Project through the Department for the Anthropology of the Americas (Abteilung für Altamerikanistik) under the sponsorship of the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft (DFG), which has bestowed a grant of approximately 300,000 Euros, which will cover planned research activities spreading from March 2013 until June 2016.

For more Information, please visit the official MAAYA Project website and the description in the GEPRIS database of the DFG.



 MAAYA_Vectorization Image

Image sequence showing the vectorization process of page 60a of the Dresden Codex as performed by the MAAYA Project using semi-automatic algorithms (2013).High resolution images of the Dresden Codex courtesy of the Sächsische Landesbibliothek- Staats- und Universitätsbibliothek Dresden (SLUB).