Fragments of Ancient Maya 260-Day Calendar Found in Guatemala

A mural fragment showing a Maya god.

A mural fragment depicting a Maya maize god.
Illustration, Heather Hurst.

Archaeologists say they have discovered the earliest-yet proof of a Mesoamerican calendar in fragments of painted murals made in what’s now Guatemala over 2,000 years in the past.

The murals have been present in a constructing advanced referred to as Las Pinturas (“the work”), on the Maya web site of San Bartolo in Guatemala. The murals depict varied people and gods in a pyramidal temple. They date to between 300 and 200 BCE, and file a date, 7 Deer, that’s a part of the 260-day Tzolokay’in divinatory calendar, The group’s analysis is revealed at present in Science Advances.

“It was typically believed that the calendar system of 260 days originated elsewhere, perhaps in Oaxaca,” stated David Stuart, an archaeologist on the College of Texas, Austin and lead writer of the analysis, in an e-mail to Gizmodo. “This new discover makes Maya proof simply as previous, and signifies that the origin-place of the Calendar is an open query. It might even have been a Maya growth for all we all know.”

The Tzolk’in calendar pairs 13 numbers with 20 named days in a 260-day cycle, that means that there aren’t any weeks and months within the system. Some Maya teams nonetheless observe the calendar. The 7 Deer date the group discovered contains the Mayan numeral for seven with the pinnacle of a deer painted beneath.

A lot of what we all know in regards to the Maya’s astrological and calendrical methods come from a sequence of codices that survived destruction on the hand of Spanish clergymen within the sixteenth century. However a number of surviving artifacts point out the Mesoamerican civilization’s calendar system dates to properly earlier than the codices have been described. In 2011a group of archaeologists room within the Xultún advanced in Guatemala that contained calendrical hieroglyphs. However the newly discovered calendar file is over 1,000 years older.

A mural fragment with calendar notation.

The mural fragment containing “7 Deer”, at prime.
Picture, Karl Taube, courtesy of the Proyecto Regional Arqueológico San Bartolo – Xultun

“Early proof of the Mesoamerican calendar has been debated, however they current clear proof of the 260-day calendar,” stated Takeshi Inomata, an archaeologist on the College of Arizona who’s unaffiliated with the brand new work, in an e-mail to Gizmodo. “Their work on the web site of San Bartolo has been reworking our understanding of Maya writing and artwork.”

The researchers be aware that one obvious Maya hieroglyph present in Mexico’s Tabasco area dates to 650 BCE, however they do not consider that hieroglyph represents a day. The newly introduced Guatemalan calendar glyph can be uncommon in that it was painted; earlier doable proof of the calendar is carved in stone monuments.

Gerardo Aldana, an archaeologist at UC Santa Barbara who was unaffiliated with the analysis, stated that the work was uncommon and essential however “raises as many questions because it solutions.” Aldana famous that cultural trade between what’s now thought-about Maya and Isthmian areas of Mesoamerica signifies that “writing and calendric traditions and calendric traditions have been developed on the regional stage,” reasonably than in a single place.

“One factor is totally clear: San Bartolo and the rapid area is crying out for additional analysis, because it might be able to present a singular window into the long-term growth of regional writing traditions in addition to astronomical practices,” Aldana stated.

hopefully, extra discoveries will yield extra calendrical insights, as archaeologists proceed to interrupt down the origins of this advanced timekeeping system.

Extra: Misplaced Monument of Early Maya Civilization Found in Mexico

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