NEWS: Very Early Maya Ceremonial Architecture at Ceibal 6

The most recent issue of Science includes an article on the remarkable finds recently made at Ceibal (Seibal), Guatemala. Excavations there have revealed very early evidence of Maya ceremonial buildings and civic space, dating as far back as 1000 BCE. It’s wonderful and significant work, extending the roots of Maya religious architecture back to the Early Preclassic. Congratulations go out to Takeshi Inomata (my old Vanderbilt classmate and road-trip companion), Daniela Triadan and their colleagues.

Science News article

Link to Science article (subscription required for full access)

“Early Maya Ceremonial Constructions at Ceibal, Guatemala, and the Origins of Lowland Maya Civilization”

Takeshi Inomata, Daniela Triadan, Kazuo Aoyama, Victor Castillo, and Hitoshi Yonenobu

Science, Vol. 340, no. 6131, pp. 467-471

The spread of plaza-pyramid complexes across southern Mesoamerica during the early Middle Preclassic period (1000 to 700 BCE) provides critical information regarding the origins of lowland Maya civilization and the role of the Gulf Coast Olmec. Recent excavations at the Maya site of Ceibal, Guatemala, documented the growth of a formal ceremonial space into a plaza-pyramid complex that predated comparable buildings at other lowland Maya sites and major occupations at the Olmec center of La Venta. The development of lowland Maya civilization did not result from one-directional influence from La Venta, but from interregional interactions, involving groups in the southwestern Maya lowlands, Chiapas, the Pacific Coast, and the southern Gulf Coast.

Radio-carbon and the Long Count 4

New carbon-14 tests of one of the famous carved wooden lintels from Tikal generally confirm the long-established GMT correlations of the Maya Long Count calendar, as explained in a new press release from Penn State University. This is not the first test of the calendar correlation against radio carbon data — such efforts began some 50 years ago — but it does use the latest calibration methods.

The original study from Nature can be found here.

A Podcast on 2012, from The Academic Minute 4

CRNHS2VfinalpassageA brief take on the 2012 business, recorded for The Academic Minute, a podcast from WAMC radio distributed on a number of college and NPR stations here in the US.

Of course the idea that no actual 2012 prophecy exists gets very little widespread distribution in the media. It hasn’t a chance against the shameless doom-and-gloom, junk-science narratives of The History Channel or, even worse now, The National Geographic Channel.

The 2013 Maya Meetings in Austin Reply

The Art of Maya Architecture:
Cosmology and Dynasty in the Built Environment
January 15-19, 2013
The University of Texas at Austin

The Maya Meetings return to Austin in January 2013 for five days of workshops and symposium.

Conference information, programs and registration information here

The 2013 Maya Meetings will explore new ideas about the art and meaning of ancient Maya architectural decoration and design. The last several years of archaeological research in the Maya region have revealed many examples of ornate temple decoration, as well as important reconsiderations of the symbolism and significance of buildings long known to archaeologists and art historians. Using archaeology, iconography, epigraphy, and the study of architectural forms, the Maya Meetings will focus on the built environment as expressions of ritual, cosmological and political space. This year we will have a number of compelling presenters, including several rising scholars in the field of Maya research.

The Queen’s Tomb at El Peru 10

The discovery of a major royal tomb at El Peru hit the news yesterday. Congratulations to the project and all the team members.

Details and the official announcement of the find can be found here, on the Washington University in St. Louis website.

As Stanley Guenter has shown, the name inscribed on the alabaster container found in the burial is the same as that of the woman depicted on El Peru Stela 34, now in the Cleveland Art Museum, dedicated in A.D. 692. She was originally from Calakmul, marrying into the El Peru dynasty as the spouse of the local ruler K’inich B’ahlam. The hieroglyphic term that labels the snail-shaped object or its contents (yu-ha?-b’a) is unique, and remains difficult to decipher at present.

Alabaster vessel from the tomb, in the form of a snail shell. (Photo: El Peru Waka Regional Archaeological Project)

El Peru, Stela 34, with the portrait of “Lady K’abel” from Calakmul. Her name glyph appears in the text panel below her ceremonial shield, and also in one of the small cartouches in her feather headdress. (Cleveland Art Museum.)