Early Maya Script and Visual Culture: A Chronological and Geographical Reassessment

Author(s): David Stuart

Year: 2015


This paper presents evidence for a lowland origin of Maya hieroglyphic writing and iconography during the Late Pre-Classic period. It calls into question long-standing models of highland-lowland interaction that have assigned temporal priority of Maya monumental art and visual culture to the southern highlands and Piedmont region. In addition to the several known sculpted and inscribed monuments from the Peten region, archaeological evidence from the site of San Bartolo has revealed integrated programs of script and iconography in place in the lowlands by 300 BCE, well before their first known appearance on datable monuments in the southern region, at Takalik Abaj and Kaminaljuyu. In integrating archaeological, epigraphic and art historical perspectives, this paper considers a model wherein examples of Maya visual culture at such highland and piedmont centers can be viewed as lowland-inspired, indicating an intrusive political and cultural (though not necessarily ethnic) presence that was also relatively short-lived, diminishing by the beginnings of the Early Classic era.

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Cite this Record

Early Maya Script and Visual Culture: A Chronological and Geographical Reassessment. David Stuart. Presented at The 80th Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, San Francisco, California. 2015 ( tDAR id: 397097)


Art Chronology Maya

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

min long: -107.271; min lat: 12.383 ; max long: -86.353; max lat: 23.08 ;