Making and Keeping Secret Knowledge at Xultun, Guatemala

Author(s): Franco Rossi

Year: 2016


As repositories for scientific secrets and ritual expertise, the four extant Maya codex books have proven an indispensable source for understanding ancient systems of religion and socio-political thought. But despite the undoubted existence of codex books during the much earlier Late Classic period (600-900 C.E.), the tropical climate’s decay-inducing effect on organic material has thus far prevented their recovery in the archaeological record. In this paper, I discuss the Los Sabios mural at Xultun as a window into earlier codex traditions. The texts on the Los Sabios mural are distinctly akin to those found in these codex books—detailing highly similar forms of seasonal and astronomical data inscribed in minute characters. As such, the Los Sabios mural texts not only constitute one of the closest artifacts we currently have to a Classic period codex, but also reveal previously unknown ties between the practice of mural making and that of codex making.

Cite this Record

Making and Keeping Secret Knowledge at Xultun, Guatemala. Franco Rossi. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 404291)


Codices Maya Mural

Geographic Keywords

Spatial Coverage

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