Discovered there since century, the sprawling complex of Xultún in Petén region of Guatemala is just beginning to reveal its secrets. American archaeologists have discovered a house that contains what appears to be a work space for scribes, with walls decorated with unique paintings, calligraphic signs and hundreds of scribbled numbers. According to experts, they would represent the calculations of the Mayan calendar.
The inscriptions date from the ninth century, they are much older than the famous Mayan codices written on sheets of bark of trees. These codices date from the recent Postclassic period (just before the arrival of the conquistadors) and so far we did not discover any traces of the oldest astronomical calculations. This discovery is the subject of two publications in the journal Science and the National Geographic magazine.
The excavated house, was buried one meter below ground, and has been largely degraded by looters, but several paintings of human figures and many black and red hieroglyphs have been preserved. They represent the first discoveries in Mayan household paints.
Three walls and a lot of mysteries
On the north wall, archaeologists have identified a niche centered with the painting of a king seated and dressed in blue feathers. Besides, there is the portrait of a scribe (orange)probably the owner, who “could be the son or younger brother of the king” said William Saturno of Boston University, who led the exploration and excavation.
The north wall also includes a kind of calendar with four numbers but the most enigmatic astronomical cycles are related to Mars, Mercury and maybe Venus. The dates can project 7000 years later. “The ancient Mayans predicted that in 7000 years, the world would be exactly as it is,” said William Saturno.
Other walls feature paintings of figures dressed in white loincloths, carrying identical medallions around the neck and a cap fitted with a single feather. Other sets of dates are also engraved. Some columns of figures correspond to the phases of the Moon and others could match the predictions of eclipses. The authors note that one of the goals of leaders of the Mayan calendars, deduced from studies of the codices, was to find a harmony between heaven and the events of sacred rituals. The researchers speculate that the paintings of Xultún should have a similar goal.