Mayan ball game scoreboard thought to be over 1,000 years old found in México

The circular carved stone, unearthed at Yucatán’s Chichén Itzá complex, displays hieroglyphic writing and two game players.

The circular piece measures just over 12.6 in (32 cm) in diameter and weighs 88 lbs (40 kg). Photograph: Reuters

Reuters in México City
Last modified on 2023 Apr 12

A stone scoreboard used in an ancient ritual ball game has been discovered at the famed Mayan Chichén Itzá archaeological site on México’s Yucatán peninsula.

The circular piece, measuring just over 12.6 in (32 cm) in diameter and weighing 88 lbs (40 kg), displays hieroglyphic writing surrounding two players standing next to a ball, according to a statement from México’s National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH).

“In this Mayan site, it is rare to find hieroglyphic writing, let alone a complete text,” said Francisco Pérez, one of the archaeologists coordinating the investigations in the Chichanchob complex, also called Casa Colorada.

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The stone, believed to be a scoreboard, dates from between AD 800 and AD 900.

The game, played with a heavy rubber ball, was a traditional practice of Mesoamerican peoples and is believed to have had ritual undertones.

INAH researchers are now preparing to take high-resolution images of the text and iconography for detailed study, while preparing it for conservation.

The Chichén Itzá complex, declared a world heritage site by Unesco, is one of the main archaeological centers of the Maya civilization on the Yucatán peninsula. According to official data, about 2 million people visit the site every year.




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