Skip to main content Accessibility help
×
Home

IZAPAN WRITING: CLASSIFICATION AND PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS

  • David F. Mora-Marín (a1)

Abstract

This paper reviews the limited evidence for the classification of the script attested at the site of Izapa. Sufficient data for assessing the nature of key formal traits exists, thanks to the more recent documentation of the sculptural corpus (Clark and Moreno 2007). After a review of the archaeological and historical linguistic context, the paper examines the history of research on the classification of the writing systems of Mesoamerica (Justeson 1986; Justeson and Mathews 1990; Justeson et al. 1985; Prem 1973), focusing on the Southeastern Tradition. Three diagnostic traits allow for a narrow assignation of Izapa's script, perhaps unsurprisingly, to the Greater Izapan or Maya-Izapa sub-tradition (Justeson and Mathews 1990; Justeson et al. 1985) of the Southeastern Tradition: the superfixed placement of the bar-and-dot numeral with respect to the day sign cartouche, positional notation for counting, and the use of day sign pedestals. Other traits include the conflation and embedding of signs. The paper concludes that the evidence is, at present, insufficient to distinguish between the two likely options, Mixe-Zoquean and Mayan. Finally, a preliminary signary is provided in the Appendix.

Copyright

Corresponding author

Email correspondence to: davidmm@unc.edu

References

Hide All
Benavides C., Antonio, and Grube, Nikolai 2002 Dos monolitos tempranos de Jaina, Campeche, México. Mexicon 24:9597.
Berger, Rainer, Graham, John A., and Heizer, Robert F. 1967 A Reconsideration of the Age of the La Venta Site. In Studies in Olmec Archaeology, pp. 124. University of California Archaeological Research Facility, Contribution 3. University of California, Berkeley.
Cahn, Peter Robert, and Winter, Marcus 1993 The San José Mogote Danzante. Indiana 13:3964.
Campbell, Lyle 1972 Mayan Loan Words in Xinca. International Journal of American Linguistics 38:187190.
Campbell, Lyle 1978 Quichean Prehistory: Linguistic Contributions. In Papers in Mayan Linguistics, edited by England, Nora C., pp. 25-55. Department of Anthropology, University of Missouri, Columbia.
Campbell, Lyle 1984 The Implications of Mayan Historical Linguistics for Glyphic Research. In Phoneticism in Maya Hieroglyphic Writing, edited by John S. Justeson and Lyle Campbell, pp. 1–16. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies Publication 9. State University of New York, Albany.
Campbell, Lyle, and Kaufman, Terrence 1976 A Linguistic Look at the Olmecs. American Antiquity 41:8089.
Clark, John E. 1991 The Beginnings of Mesoamerica: Apologia for the Soconusco Early Formative. In The Formation of Complex Society in Southeastern Mesoamerica, edited by Fowler, William R. Jr., pp. 1326. CRC Press, Boca Raton.
Clark, John E., and Moreno, Ayax 2007 Redrawing the Izapa Monuments. In Archaeology, Art, and Ethnogenesis in Mesoamerican Prehistory: Papers in Honor of Gareth W. Lowe, edited by Lowe, Lynneth S. and Pye, Mary E., pp. 277320. Brigham Young University Print Services, Provo.
Coe, Michael 1976 Early Steps in the Evolution of Maya Writing. In Origins of Religious Art and Iconography in Preclassic Mesoamerica, edited by Nicholson, H.B., pp. 107–122. UCLA Latin American Studies Series, Volume 31. Ethnic Arts Council of Los Angeles, UCLA Latin American Center Publications, Los Angeles.
Coggins, Clemency 1996 Creation Religion and Numbers at Teotihuacan and Izapa. RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 29/30:1638.
Doering, Travis F., and Collins, Lori D. 2010 Revisiting Kaminaljuyu Monument 65 in Three-Dimensional High Definition. In The Place of Stone Monuments: Context, Use, and Meaning in Mesoamerica's Preclassic Tradition, edited by Guernsey, Julia, Clark, John E., and Arroyo, Barbara, pp. 259282. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Guernsey, Julia 2004 Demystifying the Late Preclassic Izapan-Style Stela-Altar “Cult.” RES: Anthropology and Aesthetics 45:99122.
Guernsey, Julia 2006 Ritual and Power in Stone: The Performance of Rulership in Mesoamerican Izapan Style Arts. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Guernsey, Julia, and Love, Michael 2005 Late Preclassic Expressions of Authority on the Pacific Slope. In Lords of Creation: The Origins of Sacred Maya Kingship, edited by Fields, Virginia M. and Reents-Budet, Dorie, pp. 3743. Los Angeles County Museum of Art, Los Angeles, and Scala Publishers, London and New York.
Guernsey Kappelman, Julia 1997 Of Macaws and Men: Late Preclassic Cosmology and Political Ideology in Izapan-Style Monuments. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Art and Art History, University of Texas at Austin, Austin.
Hostnig, Rainer, Hostnig, Rosanna, and Vásquez V., Luis 1998 Etnobotánica Mam: Partes I y II. GTZ, Proyecto Educación Maya Bilingüe Intercultural, Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.
Josserand, J. Kathryn 2011 Languages of the Preclassic period along the Pacific Coastal Plains of Southeastern Mesoamerica. In The Southern Maya in the Late Preclassic: The Rise and Fall of an Early Mesoamerican Civilization, edited by Love, Michael and Kaplan, Jonathan, pp. 141174. University Press of Colorado, Boulder.
Justeson, John 1986 The Origin of Writing Systems: Preclassic Mesoamerica. World Archaeology, Early Writing Systems 7:437458.
Justeson, John 2012 Early Mesoamerican Writing Systems. In The Oxford Handbook of Mesoamerican Archaeology, edited by Nichols, Deborah L. and Pool, Christopher A., pp. 830844. Oxford University Press, Oxford.
Justeson, John, and Kaufman, Terrence 1993 A Decipherment of Epi-Olmec Hieroglyphic Writing. Science 259:17031710.
Justeson, John, and Kaufman, Terrence 1997 A Newly Discovered Column in the Hieroglyphic Text on La Mojarra Stela 1: A Test of the Epi-Olmec Decipherment. Science 277:207210.
Justeson, John S. 1989 The Representational Conventions of Mayan Hieroglyphic Writing. In Word and Image in Maya Culture: Explorations in Language, Writing, and Representation, edited by Hanks, William F. and Rice, Don S., pp. 2538. University of Utah Press, Salt Lake City.
Justeson, John S., and Mathews, Peter 1990 Evolutionary Trends in Mesoamerican Hieroglyphic Writing. Visible Language 24:88132.
Justeson, John S., Norman, William M., Campbell, Lyle, and Kaufman, Terrence 1985 The Foreign Impact on Lowland Mayan Language and Script. Middle American Research Institute, Publication 53. Tulane University, New Orleans.
Kaufman, Terrence, and Justeson, John 2001 Epi-Olmec Hieroglyphic Writing and Texts. Texas Workshop Foundation, Austin.
Kaufman, Terrence, and Justeson, John 2003 A Preliminary Mayan Etymological Dictionary. Electronic resource, http://www.famsi.org/reports/01051/index.html, accessed October 5, 2003.
Kaufman, Terrence, and Justeson, John 2007 The History of the Word for Cacao in Ancient Mesoamerica. Ancient Mesoamerica 18:193237.
Kaufman, Terrence, and Norman, William 1984 An Outline of Proto-Cholan Phonology, Morphology, and Vocabulary. In Phoneticism in Maya Hieroglyphic Writing, edited by Justeson, John S. and Campbell, Lyle, pp. 77166. Institute for Mesoamerican Studies Publication No. 9. State University of New York, Albany.
Lacadena García-Gallo, Alfonso 2010a Escritura y lengua en Tak'alik Ab'aj: problemas y propuestas. In XXIII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2009, edited by Arroyo, Bárbara, Palma, Adriana Linares, and Aragón, Lorena Paiz, pp. 10271044. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala City.
Lacadena García-Gallo, Alfonso 2010b On the Origins of Maya Script. Paper presented at the 2010 Maya Meetings, Casa Herrera, Antigua.
Laughton, Timothy 1997 Sculpture on the Threshold: The Iconography of Izapa and its Relationship to that of the Maya. Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Art History and Theory, University of Essex, Essex.
Lowe, Gareth W., Lee, Thomas A. Jr., and Espinosa, Eduardo Martínez 1982 Izapa: An Introduction to the Ruins and Monuments. Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, No. 31. Brigham Young University, Provo.
Marcus, Joyce 1976 The Origins of Mesoamerican Writing. Annual Review of Anthropology 5:3567.
Martin, Simon, and Grube, Nikolai 2000 Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens: Deciphering the Dynasties of the Ancient Maya. Thames and Hudson, London.
Mora-Marín, David F. 1996 The Social Context for the Origins of Mayan Writing: The Formative Ceremonial Complex, Portable Elite Objects, and Interregional Exchange. Bachelor's honors thesis, Department of Anthropology, University of Kansas, Lawrence.
Mora-Marín, David F. 1997 The Origins of Maya Writing: The Case for Portable Objects. In U Mut Maya VII, edited by Tom, and Jones, Carolyn, pp. 133164. Humboldt State University, Arcata.
Mora-Marín, David F. 2001a The Grammar, Orthography, Content, and Social Context of Late Preclassic Mayan Portable Texts. Unpublished Ph.D. dissertation, Department of Anthropology, University at Albany, Albany.
Mora-Marín, David F. 2001b Late Preclassic inscription documentation (LAPIDA) project. Elecronic document, http://www.famsi.org/reports/99049/99049MoraMarin01.pdf.
Mora-Marín, David F. 2003 The Origin of Mayan Syllabograms and Orthographic Conventions. Written Language and Literacy 6:193237.
Mora-Marín, David F. 2005 Kaminaljuyu Stela 10: Script Classification and Linguistic Affiliation. Ancient Mesoamerica 16:6387.
Mora-Marín, David F. 2008 Análisis epigráfico y lingüístico de la escritura maya del período Preclásico Tardío: Implicaciones para la historia sociolingüística de la region. In XXI Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2007, edited by Laporte, Juan Pedro, Arroyo, Bárbara, and Mejía, Héctor E., pp. 853876. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala City.
Mora-Marín, David F. 2010a Differential Mixean and Zoquean Interaction with the Greater Lowland Mayan Languages and the Late Preclassic Origins of Classic Mayan Scribal Practices. Electronic document, http://davidmm.web.unc.edu/files/2010/08/Loanwords-from-MixeA.pdf.
Mora-Marín, David F. 2010b La epigrafía y paleografía de la escritura preclásica maya: nuevas metodologías y resultados preliminares. In XXIII Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2009, edited by Arroyo, Bárbara, Palma, Adriana Linares, and Aragón, Lorena Paiz, pp. 10451057. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala City.
Mora-Marín, David F. 2016 Testing the Proto-Mayan-Mijesokean Hypothesis. International Journal of American Linguistics 82:125180.
Moreno, Ayax 2000 Carved Stone Monuments of Izapa, Chiapas, Mexico: New Perspectives. Drawings by Ayax Moreno. Unpublished manuscript on file, New World Archaeological Foundation, Brigham Young University, Provo.
Norman, V. Garth 1973 Izapa Sculpture. Part 1: Album. Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, No. 30. New World Archaeological Foundation, Brigham Young University, Provo.
Norman, V. Garth 1976 Izapa Sculpture. Part 2: Text. Papers of the New World Archaeological Foundation, No. 30. New World Archaeological Foundation, Brigham Young University, Provo.
Prem, Hanns J. 1973 A Tentative Classification of Non-Maya Inscriptions in Mesoamerica. Indiana 1:2959.
Quirarte, Jacinto 1973 Izapan-Style Art: A Study of Its Form and Meaning. Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, No. 10. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Reilly, F. K. III 1990 Cosmos and Rulership: The Function of Olmec-style Symbols in Formative Period Mesoamerica. Visible Language 24:1237.
Rice, Prudence M. 2007 Maya Calendar Origins: Monuments, Myth, History, and the Materialization of Time. University of Texas Press, Austin.
Saturno, William, Stuart, David, and Beltrán, Boris 2006 Early Maya Writing at San Bartolo, Guatemala. Science 311:12811283.
Saturno, William, Taube, Karl, and Stuart, David 2005 The Murals of San Bartolo, El Petén, Guatemala, Part I: The North Wall. Ancient America 7:175.
Schele, Linda, and Miller, Mary E. 1986 The Blood of Kings: Dynasty and Ritual in Maya Art. George Braziller, New York, and Kimbell Art Museum, Fort Worth.
Smith, Virginia G. 1984 Izapa Relief Carving: Form, Content, Rules for Design, and Role in Mesoamerican Art History and Archaeology. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Stross, Brian 1990 Mesoamerican Writing at the Crossroads: The Late Formative. Visible Language 24:3861.
Stuart, David, and Houston, Stephen 1994 Classic Maya Place Names. Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, No. 33. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Taube, Karl 1992 The Major Gods of Ancient Yucatan. Studies in Pre-Columbian Art and Archaeology, No. 32. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, DC.
Taube, Karl, Saturno, William A., Stuart, David, and Hurst, Heather 2010 Los murales de San Bartolo, El Petén, Guatemala, parte 2: El mural poniente. Ancient America 10:1111.
Thompson, Eric 1950 Maya Hieroglyphic Writing: An Introduction. Carnegie Institution of Washington Publication 589. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Washington, DC.
Thompson, Eric 1962 A Catalogue of Maya Hieroglyphics. University of Oklahoma Press, Norman.
Wichmann, Søren 1995 The Relationship among the Mixe-Zoquean Languages of Mexico. University of Utah Press, Provo.

Related content

Powered by UNSILO

IZAPAN WRITING: CLASSIFICATION AND PRELIMINARY OBSERVATIONS

  • David F. Mora-Marín (a1)

Metrics

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed.