The Archivo Notarial del Estado in Mérida, Yucatán, contains a large collection of approximately 550 documents in the Maya language from the municipal records of Tekanto, a small town located about 54 kilometers east of Mérida. The earliest Maya documents in the collection bear a 1590 date, and the latest was written in 1835. Of these many documents, 373 are wills or testaments. The collection is particularly rich in wills for the years 1724 to 1759. Only 56 wills mention bequests of property to heirs; the rest are brief, formulaic attestations of belief in the Catholic Church. They vary primarily in the names of the testator and the notary or scribe who wrote the will and in whether the funeral will include a sung or said Mass. There are also variations in how words are spelled in the wills, “errors” that are sometimes quite revealing about the amount of training the scribe received, how much influence a scribe had on his successor (and for how long), and how words were actually pronounced in Maya.

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