In the late 1560s Fray Diego de Landa wrote of how Maya books, or codices, of “ancient matters and sciences” had been burned because they contained “superstition”. A more four codices survived, only one of which, the Grolier Codex, has remained in the Americas.
Maya codices are not books in the sense of having many leaves bound together along one edge. Instead, they consist of long strips of paper made from the bark of the fig tree, and are several feet long. Codices are folded in concertina fashion, much like a modern map, allowing a much of the book to be viewed at any one time as required. The paper was prepared with a layer of limewash on which the scribe painted.