- The Washington Times - Monday, January 9, 2006

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Hieroglyphics discovered in a Mayan temple in Guatemala date to the third century B.C., showing that Mayan writing developed much earlier than thought.

The hieroglyphics, found on a block of stone in the Mayan pyramid Las Pinturas in San Bartolo, northeastern Guatemala, were dated to 200 to 300 B.C., placing Mayan writing together with the earliest examples of script elsewhere in Mesoamerica, according to the study published in the Jan. 6 edition of Science.

Researchers, led by anthropologist William Saturno of the University of New Hampshire, examined the writings on a fragment of painted block from a room richly decorated with polychrome murals deep inside the pyramid.

The block had 10 Mayan hieroglyphs painted in heavy black lines on top of white plaster. One of the glyphs was clearly recognized and understood from later Mayan texts as the title “ajaw,” meaning “lord,” “noble” or “ruler.”

The radiocarbon dating of wood associated with the script on the block placed it between 200 and 300 B.C., much older than the 100 B.C. to A.D. 100 dating previously established for the earliest Mayan writing.

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