Customizable calendar

The first evidence of a Maya sacred calendar found in Guatemala

Scientific advances (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abl9290″ width=”800″ height=”409″/>

Reconstruction of the architectural complex of the Sub-V phase of San Bartolo and of the 7 mural fragments of the day sign of the deer associated with this context. platform referred to as Ixbalamque structure which together form an E-group. Drawing by Heather Hurst. Inset: Example of two wall fragments (consolidated as 4778), the day sign 7 Stag and partial hieroglyphic text, from a total of 249 fragments of painted plaster and painted masonry blocks collected during archaeological excavations of the context Ixbalamque. Photograph by Karl Taube, courtesy of Proyecto Regional Arqueológico San Bartolo-Xultun. Credit: Scientists progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abl9290

Researchers David Stuart of the University of Texas at Austin, Heather Hurst and Boris Beltrán of Skidmore College, and independent researcher William Saturno report the first evidence for a Maya sacred calendar in Guatemala. In their article published in the journal Scientists progressthe group describes their work, which involved sifting through fragments of wall paintings at the pyramid complex of Las Pinturas in Guatemala, and how they found the calendar.

The pyramid complex of Las Pinturas is located near San Bartolo and has been excavated for several years. Previous research has shown that construction at the site began 2,300 to 2,200 years ago and that the pyramids at the site were built in several phases. As each phase of the project was completed, parts of the old structure were demolished. As the pyramids grew, the pieces of the toppled structures remained hidden within, providing a sort of timeline for the construction of the complex. In this new effort, researchers found the calendar fragments by sifting through pieces of a wall, decorated by the Maya of that period, that had been knocked down. Dating of the charcoal fragments – found in the same layer of debris as the wall fragments – showed them to date to around 300 and 200 BCE, making them the oldest known samples of a Mayan sacred calendar.

La première preuve d'un calendrier sacré maya découverte au Guatemala

Detail of fragment #4778 collected from the Sub-V phase (~300-200 BCE), with the 7 stag day sign. and (B) the illustration representing the day sign of the 7 Deer and two hieroglyphic signs in a vertical column. Scans by Heather Hurst and illustrations by David Stuart. Credit: Scientists progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abl9290

The Mayan calendar was based on the 260-day divinatory calendar that is still used by some people in parts of Mexico and Central America today. It was used by a number of people across Mesoamerica. In their work, the researchers found two pieces of wall debris that fit together. The marks included symbols known to have been used to represent a date symbol – a dot on a line above a stag’s head. It is known as the “7 deer” and represents one of the days in the 260-day calendar. The researchers suggest that the artwork shows maturity, which they say indicates that the calendar had been in use for many years.


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More information:
David Stuart et al, An early Maya calendar record from San Bartolo, Guatemala, Scientists progress (2022). DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abl9290

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