14C and Maya Long Count Dates: Refining the Approach to Classic Maya Chronologies

Author(s): Gerardo Aldana

Year: 2016


In 2013, an innovative study applied Bayesian statistical analysis to new AMS 14C samples taken from a Classic Maya lintel originating at Tikal. Because the lintel was inscribed with a Maya Long Count date, the authors argued that the results of their study confirmed the Calendar Correlation Constant known as the GMT. There are, however, two key problems with this new study and its conclusions. The first is an error of interpretation of the hieroglyphic text; the second is the questionable handling of an underlying assumption within their problem formulation. In this paper, I offer a new analysis of the 14C record from Tikal that incorporates the abovementioned study’s new data, but yields different results. For this study, I offer a new method for integrating multiple Long Count dates into the construction of a site’s/structure’s 14C chronology, I correct the error in hieroglyphic interpretation and I reconsider the key assumption behind the former study’s conclusion. The result supports the broader application of Bayesian statistics to 14C datasets within Maya archaeology, and while it corroborates the 1σ accuracy of the GMT, at the same time it opens up the possibility of revision by 20 or more years.

Cite this Record

14C and Maya Long Count Dates: Refining the Approach to Classic Maya Chronologies. Gerardo Aldana. Presented at The 81st Annual Meeting of the Society for American Archaeology, Orlando, Florida. 2016 ( tDAR id: 405256)

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Spatial Coverage

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