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Olmec Origins of Mesoamerican Writing

Science  06 Dec 2002:
Vol. 298, Issue 5600, pp. 1984-1987
DOI: 10.1126/science.1078474

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Abstract

A cylinder seal and carved greenstone plaque bearing glyphs dating to ∼650 B.C. have been uncovered near the Olmec center of La Venta in Tabasco, Mexico. These artifacts, which predate others containing writing, reveal that the key aspects of the Mesoamerican scripts were present in Olmec writing: the combination of pictographic and glyphic elements to represent speech; the use of the sacred 260-day calendar; and the connection between writing, the calendar, and kingship. They imply that Mesoamerican writing originated in the La Venta polity.

  • * To whom correspondence should be addressed. E-mail: mpohl{at}mailer.fsu.edu

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