Detail map of Tikal, Petén, Guatemala Overview map of Tikal, Petén, Guatemala

A: Tikal, Petén, Guatemala

The Earliest Known Examples of Maya Script

Circa 300 BCE
<p><a title="Yucatec Maya language" href="">Yucatec Maya writing</a>&nbsp;in the&nbsp;<em><a title="Dresden Codex" href="">Dresden Codex</a></em>, c. 11&ndash;12th century,&nbsp;<a title="Chichen Itza" href="">Chichen Itza</a>.&nbsp;The individual characters have a semi-globular shape.</p>

Yucatec Maya writing in the Dresden Codex, c. 11–12th century, Chichen Itza. The individual characters have a semi-globular shape.

A vertical, columnar stone inscription roughly six inches long. Image: Boris Beltrán/Science. (View Larger)

The earliest stone inscription which is identifiably in Maya script, (or Maya glyphs or Maya hieroglyphs) was found in in 2005 the pre-Columbian Maya archaeological site in San Bartolo in the Department of Petén in northern Guatemala, northeast of Tikal and roughly fifty miles from the nearest settlement. This vertical column of ten glyphic words roughly six inches long, dating from circa 300 BCE, "may be related to a nearby painted image of the maize god" (, accessed 03-23-2010). In 2010 this inscription had not been deciphered.

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