Research Notes

Two Vessels from Xultun Workshops in the Tikal Center for Conservation and Research

During the past decade the corpus of inscriptions pertaining to the Baax Witz court of Xultun has been significantly amplified thanks to recent archaeological investigations as well as newly identified polychrome vessels with dedicatory texts in private and institutional collections. Here we present two heretofore unpublished polychrome vessels of unknown provenance, both of which can be ascribed to the pottery workshops of Xultun. One of these vessels provides us with additional evidence for Ix Yax We’n Chaak, a female ruler whose existence has just recently been revealed thanks to new in situ finds. The other fragmented vessel can, by means of a comparative analysis, stylistically be attributed to a Late Classic palace workshop of Xultun that operated during the reign of Yax We’n Chan K’inich.

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JOM: A Possible Reading for the “Star War” Glyph?

This research note is based on a chapter from my master’s thesis which discusses the possible readings of the Star War glyph. In that thesis, I attempt to provide the most up-to-date and complete examination of this sign. The insights gained from this investigation now allow us to draw new conclusions and re-evaluate our understanding of this enigmatic term. This article will discuss one of the new ideas that arose from this study, specifically a hypothesis that may yield a new reading proposal.

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Hieroglyphic Names of the King of La Amelia, the Petexbatun Region, Maya Lowlands, Terminal Classic

The only known ruler of La Amelia is mentioned in the inscriptions with two appellatives, which have been tentatively read as Lachan K’awiil and ˀAjaw Bot in previous publications. The present note revises these readings. A re-examination of the inscription on Hieroglyphic Stairway 1 showed that his first appellative is to be read as K’ahk‘ Hoplaj Chan K’awil, “As for the fire, it is (the rain god) K’awiil who is burning in the sky”. This reading is consistent a wide-spread onomastic formula, which was popular in the Eastern Maya Lowlands in the Classic Period. It is also suggested that the initial ˀa phonetic complement of his second appellative should be interpreted as an indication of a non-standard reading order. Thus, this widely accepted and tentative reading order ˀAjaw Bot receives a well-grounded interpretation.

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A Possible Mention of the “Xukalnaah” Emblem Title on Altar de los Reyes, Altar 3

During the 2002 season of the long-term archaeological survey of southern Campeche led by Ivan Šprajc a fragmented circular monument was discovered. Its inscription records a long list of emblem glyphs, after which its site of discovery, formerly named after the ejido Zapote Bobal in which it is located, was aptly renamed as “Altar de los Reyes”. The monument itself was designated as Altar de los Reyes, Altar 3.
The altar was found badly shattered – probably intentionally destroyed – in the center of the plaza in the West Acropolis of the mentioned site. The larger fragments feature a well preserved part of an inscription which originally encircled the entire perimeter of the lateral surface of the Altar 3. A large part of it could be re-assembled; however, a considerable part of the inscription is lost, thus leaving several inscribed fragments without an exact fit into the original text.

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Punctuation Marks in Ceramic Texts

The use of punctuation marks has not been documented for classic Maya hieroglyphic writing so far. However, we know from colonial Yucatec dictionaries of the 16th and 17th century that there was a term for inserting such marks. Two dictionaries, the San Francisco dictionary and the Diccionario de la Lengua Maya by Juan Pio Pérez mention terms such as t’a h ts’ib „tilde, puntos en la escritura“ and u t’ahal sabak, which are compounds based on the nouns t’ah „drops of a liquid“, sabak „ink“ and tz’ib „writing“ respectively. Thunil dzib “drop writing” was another word for “punto en escritura”. Colonial Yucatec scribes thus had access to a philological terminology, but we do not know for sure whether these concepts already existed in the pre-Hispanic period, or whether they are the result of contact with European scribal practice. Only a few authors have so far commented on the topic of punctuation in the Maya script, including Martha Macri and Matthew Looper, who deny the existence of punctuation or signs indicative of reading known from the Maya script.

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Yokib chanch’e’en, “el Cielo y el Pozo de Yokib”: historia sagrada y espacios primordiales de Piedras Negras

Between 687 and 692, K’inich Yo’nal Ahk II, ruler of Piedras Negras (Yokib), undertook and completed a radical remodeling of the Acropolis and the West Group Plaza, Yokib’s chanch’e’en. He consecrated and inaugurated this architectural work at the end of the K’atun 8 Ajaw (9.13.0.0.0, 8 Ahau 8 Uo, March 16, 692 A.D.). In front of Structure J-4 he erected Altar 1, an exceptional sculpture because of its large dimensions and long glyphic inscription. The monument records a chain of mythical, legendary, and historical events that, along with a future date, spans 7,906 years. All the events contained in that long period took place in Yokib’s chanch’e’en, whether in its buildings, mountains, or waterways. This vision of the primordial history of Piedras Negras showed the sacred nature of the settlement throughout the ages. Later, a panel and seven stelae were periodically erected in Structure J-4, in front of the altar, as a testimony to the periodic rituals dedicated to the ancestors and tutelary deities, and to the endurance and divine essence of the chanch’e’en.

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A Logogram for YAH „Wound“

Among the many logographic signs which so far have escaped decipherment is a head sign which shows a V-shaped stepped design in its interior. The sign has been identified by Eric Thompson as T1078. A closer look at the sign shows that its full form includes a small attached prefix with “darkness” markings representing an obsidian tool, perhaps a knife that was used for sacrificial purposes. It is argued here that the wounded head with the knife is a logogram YA or YAH for „wound“.

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Shedding New Light on the Maya Stela from Hix Witz in Stuttgart

A Maya stela with a hieroglyphic text and a portrayal of a Maya ruler that is now in the collections of the Linden Museum in Stuttgart, Germany (inventory no. M 30751), has received scant attention from scholars to date. Our analysis concludes that the monument illustrates a previously unknown Maya king of the small polity of Hix Witz (English “Ocelot/Margay Hill”) from the early ninth century CE and most likely originates from Zapote Bobal in Petén, Guatemala, or a neighboring site.

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The Sign 576 as a Logograph for KUK, a Type of Bundle

The decipherment KUK for sign 576 that has been tested here proves productive for understanding its occurrences in Palenque (yok kuk ch’ajan ‘guardian of the tied bundle’) and for reading the name phrase of the way creature nicknamed “man in the bundle” as kuk winik, kukil winik, or kukan winik ‘bundle person’, ‘rolled-up person’, or ‘person who becomes a bundle’. This interpretation also fits well with the attestation on La Amelia Stela 2, where the captive who has been tied and wrapped up into a bundle is rolled down the stairs in the context of a ritual ballgame. In Palenque, this term also identifies a member of the royal court who was assigned with caring for the royal vesture and regalia and dressing the king or otherwise assisting him with donning his vestments.

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A New Logogram for <HUL> “to Arrive” – Implications for the Decipherment of the Month Name Cumku

Research Note 13

The focus of this report is on an element in Maya writing that has not yet been listed in any of the published sign inventories. Due to its position in the Lunar Series in the inscription on Copan Temple 11, north entrance, eastern jamb, this element must represent the logogram HUL as so-called Glyph D and can be translated as “to arrive (at a place)”.

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Abstraction through the Merger of Iconic Elements in Forming New Allographs: The Logogram 539 <WAY>

Research Note 12

One contributor to the calligraphic complexity of Classic Maya writing is the ability afforded by the script to create allographs. There are examples with multiple stages of extraction and simplification to create allographs. In order to create a unique graph, distinctive parts of the feline WAY icon are merged into the well-known allograph with its right half covered in jaguar fur, although both allographs represent the very same sign.

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A Possible Logograph XAN “Palm” in Maya Writing

Research Note 5

This epigraphic note explores the idea that Maya scribes invented and used a sign for “palm, guano” in their writing system. Epigraphic and linguistic data strongly support our hypothesis that the graph A27 renders the prototypical image of a guano or fan and denotes the generic botanical term XAN > xa’n, xaan, xan, meaning “palm”.

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The Logogram JALAM

Research Note 3

Several logographic signs in Maya hieroglyphic writing resist decipherment because they occur only in a few and semantically very limited contexts. One of these idiosyncratic logograms is the sign which is listed as T284 in the Thompson catalogue. However, in the case of this sign, a series of syllabic spellings provides a key for its unequivocal decipherment.

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Tz’atz’ Nah, a „New“ Term in the Classic Mayan Lexicon

Research Note 2

Inscriptions are a rich source for Classic Maya architectural terminology, which is rather descriptive and includes a number of building names and general architectural terms ending with the generic nah. Study of the Temple of the Sun sanctuary tablet has revealed another architectural term previously unknown in the Maya epigraphic record.

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