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This 500-Year-Old Mexican Document Proves Emojis Were In A Long Time Ago

Codex Selden sounds like it could be a character in the next “Star Wars” movie, but it’s actually a mysterious 500-year-old Mexican manuscript. Created for storytelling purposes, this manuscript was used by the Mixtec, an indigenous group from Mexico.

Unfortunately, many of the stories on the document were obscured by plaster, which historians couldn’t remove because of the potential damage it might cause. Thanks to advancements in technology, researchers have been able to electronically peel back a few layers to finally get a glimpse of what had previously been inaccessible. Here’s what they saw.

The top part of the image is what was visible to the naked eye, and the lower half is what computers were able to see:

High-tech imaging reveals rare precolonial Mexican manuscript hidden from view for 500 years https://www.universiteitleiden.nl/en/news/2016/08/high-tech-imaging-reveals-rare-precolonial-mexican-manuscript-hidden-from-view-for-500-years The newly-revealed codex, or book, has been hidden from view for almost 500 years, concealed beneath a layer of plaster and chalk on the back of a later manuscript known as the Codex Selden, which is housed at the Bodleian Libraries. Scientists have used hyperspectral imaging to reveal pictographic scenes from this remarkable document and have published their findings in the Journal of #Archaeology: Reports. Ancient Mexican codices are some of the most important artefacts of early Mexican culture and they are particularly rare. Codex Selden, also known as Codex Añute, dates from around 1560 and is one of less than 20 known #Mexican codices to have survived the colonisation of America. Of those, it is one of only five surviving manuscripts from the #Mixtec area, now known as #Oaxaca in Mexico. These codices use a complex system of pictures, symbols and bright colours to narrate centuries of conquering dynasties and genealogies as well as wars and the history of ancient cities. In essence these codices provide the best insight into the history and culture of early #Mexico. #arqueologia #art #arte #history #historia #mesoamerica #mixtec

A photo posted by Tlatollotl (@tlatollotl) on

Like most things in the realm of research, answers only lead to more questions. And this case is no exception. Researchers still aren’t completely sure what it all means.

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The Mixtec language, much like Egyptian Hieroglyphics, is a pictogram-based language, which means there’s a lot of research that has to go into deciphering what was being said, and who is even represented by the drawings.

To get a sense of what historians are up against, think about it like this:

Screen Shot 2016-08-19 at 4.28.11 PM

I barely understand emojis now, and I use them all the time. I can’t imagine how it’ll be in 500 years when historians unearth an old smartphone and try to figure out just what in the damn hell we were talking about when we said, “poop poop eggplant kimoji”.

Read: Latinos Will Never Look At These Emojis The Same Again

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