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Early Maya Writing at San Bartolo, Guatemala

Science  03 Mar 2006:
Vol. 311, Issue 5765, pp. 1281-1283
DOI: 10.1126/science.1121745

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Abstract

The ruins of San Bartolo, Guatemala, contain a sample of Maya hieroglyphic writing dating to the Late Preclassic period (400 B.C. to 200 A.D.). The writing appears on preserved painted walls and plaster fragments buried within the pyramidal structure known as “Las Pinturas,” which was constructed in discrete phases over several centuries. Samples of carbonized wood that are closely associated with the writing have calibrated radiocarbon dates of 200 to 300 B.C. This early Maya writing implies that a developed Maya writing system was in use centuries earlier than previously thought, approximating a time when we see the earliest scripts elsewhere in Mesoamerica.

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