Oldest reference to the famous Mayan calendar found in Guatemala | Science

During excavations of the ancient pyramid of Las Pinturas in San Bartolo, a small Mayan city in Guatemala, researchers discovered a portion of the calendar that may date back to the Mayan era. It’s an ancient hieroglyph with the symbols for “7 deer day,” one of the 260 days of Tzolkin, a popular Mayan calendar.

The Maya had multiple calendars. One of these was Tzolkin, a rolling divination calendar. This calendar has a period of 260 days. The odd days in this calendar are named in a fixed order from one to twenty, and repeat thirteen times a year. The Tzolkin is the oldest and most important of the Mayan calendar systems. Therefore researchers believe that the hieroglyphs recovered are part of this calendar system.

Historical records of this sacred calendar were previously found in Mesoamerica, but researchers could not establish its date with certainty. Researchers are very confident that the newly discovered piece was written between 300 and 200 BC. This means that the hieroglyphs found are the oldest reference to the famous Mayan calendar to date. So the Tzolkin calendar has probably been in use for much longer than scientists thought. The researchers say in the study published in: Science Advances.

(Read more below the photo)

Above this heading, which is framed with a simple background, is the number 7 with dashes and dots. According to the researchers, this is part of Tzulkin. © via Reuters

Las Penturas

The Las Pinturas pyramid, where the piece was found, contains several layers of Mayan history, dating back to around 800 BC. The pyramid is known for its murals depicting Mayan mythology. In 2005, excavations under the fifth floor revealed the remains of gypsum walls painted with hieroglyphs. These scribbles are among the oldest evidence of hieroglyphic writing in the Maya region.

Now, subsequent excavations in the same layer may have revealed the earliest evidence of a hieroglyphic calendar. It is a hieroglyphic that clearly shows the head of a deer. Above this heading, which is framed with a simple background, is the number 7 with dashes and dots. According to researchers, this is part of the Tzulkin calendar. It is possible that many other special discoveries are waiting to be discovered in the pyramid of Las Pinturas.

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Denton Watson

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