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A Mayanist (Spanish: mayista) is a scholar specialising in research and study of the Mesoamerican pre-Columbian Maya civilization. This discipline should not be confused with Mayanism, a collection of New Age beliefs about the ancient Maya.
The term Mayanist was coined by parallel with specialized fields studying other historical civilizations; see for example, Egyptologist (Ancient Egypt) and Assyriologist (Ancient Mesopotamia). It has been in widespread use from the late 19th century onwards, particularly by those who have studied and contributed to the decipherment of Maya hieroglyphics, the complex and elaborate writing system which was developed by the ancient Maya.
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