Review of The Hidden Maya by Martin Brennan

Reviewed by John Major Jenkins

In his new book, The Hidden Maya (Bear & Company Publishers, Santa Fe, 1998) Martin Brennan has produced a masterpiece of deduction that may revolutionize how we understand the ancient Maya writing systems. For ten years the academic decipherment of Maya hieroglypic writing has progressed by leaps and bounds, but Brennan sheds additional light on the topic and broadens academic interpretations with this key insight: Handsigns are also present in Maya art, alongside the hieroglyphs, as a parallel set of symbols. Brennan examines North American Indian handsigns, compares these universal signalling codes to hand gestures in Maya art, and proposes new in-depth readings for many Maya hieroglyphic passages. Strangely, academia itself was not aware of and does not currently acknowledge this approach, although now, with Brennan's independently accomplished study, a reassessment of conventional academic wisdom is definitely in order. Brennan did all of the drawings for his book himself, and his insights will be intriguing to everyone interested in the hidden secrets of Maya thought, numerology, religion, and cosmology.