Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Talk by Drs. Harvey and Victoria Bricker

March 5th, 2010
4:00 PM

Freeman Auditorium
Woldenberg Art Center
Tulane University

“Zodiacal Beasts of the Precolumbian Maya”
Talk by: Drs. Harvey and Victoria Bricker

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The Paris Codex, one of the few surviving hieroglyphic books of the Precolumbian Maya, contains an almanac that has long been interpreted as a representation of a Maya zodiac. It divides the year into 13 28-day periods, and these periods are associated in some way with 13 animals, mostly nonhuman, that have been seen as zodiacal symbols comparable to the bull, the ram, the twins, and so on of our own zodiac (both sets include a scorpion, for example). There have been very divergent interpretations of how the symbols of a Maya zodiac should be related to the annual calendar. Twenty years ago, we proposed, based on our study of the Paris Codex almanac, that what was important was pairs of zodiacal constellations—the one that was rising and the one that was setting just before Sunrise during a given 28-day period. A few years later we presented what seemed to be strong confirmatory evidence for this model based on a previously little studied inscription at the Terminal Classic site of Uxmal in Yucatán, Mexico. More recently, we have returned to the zodiacal almanac in the Paris Codex, applying knowledge not available two decades ago to the study of this almanac’s hieroglyphic captions. The results of this new research confirm and extend our previous understandings, and they explain explicit references in the almanac to a 168-day distance that had been the subject of earlier controversy.

There will be a reception held after the talk in the Newcomb Hall Faculty Lounge.

This event has been organized by the Tulane Anthroplogy Student Association and is sponsored by TASA, GSSA and MARI.