Wednesday, May 04, 2011

Maya News Updates Banner 2007
Maya News Updates 2011, No. 14: Maya - Maya Sites with Hieroglyphic Stairways, A Preliminary List
The incredible archaeological discovery of the Hieroglyphic Stairway at El Palmar, Campeche (Mexico), in 2009 and the recent (April 25, 2011) posted report on its contents has my "epigraphic heart" beating. It prompted me to delve into my Maya epigraphic memory and my drawing/archaeological files. Today I found some time to look for Maya sites that have one or more Hieroglyphic Stairways (HS). The listing below is preliminary, not more than that, and will be extended as time permits.

May 5 & 7 additions: More sites and maps have been added.
May 7 addition: I apply the abbreviation HS plus a number for each architectural feature that can be identified as a hieroglyphic stairway. However, this is my application and certain hieroglyphic stairways may be found referred to in the literature as simply "hieroglyphic stairway".
As a tentative definition of hieroglyphic stairway I employ the following: "A hieroglyphic stairway is an architertural feature that consists of multiple steps (two or more) of which not all steps need to contain hieroglyphic texts."
This definition eliminates single step features, such as at Copan (e.g. Str. 10-L21, Str. 10L-22). As such I am contemplating to add the Reviewing Stand of Structure 10L-12 at Copan as a possible hieroglyphic stairway. The single step at Uxmal, which I interpreted as a possible HS, is still under investigation.
After the listing of sites I post a distributional map of sites that feature (a) hieroglyphic stairway(s). The pattern that seems to emerge (to me at least) from this distributional map is intriguing and commented upon below. Also a new imag is added, a digital reconstruction of the Cancuen palace, indicating the location of H.S. 1. The presence of HS 2-4 at Cancuen seems less likely now that I have read some recent Informes, but I will eliminate them from the listing only after I have received more information.
May 8 addition: One more site is added which seems to have had a hieroglyphic stairway, Tonina. Graham and Mathews provided a first clue, identifying Tonina Monument 27 as a possible hieroglyphic stairway riser (see Graham and Mathews, 2004, Corpus, Vol. 6.2, p. 71), Marc Zender made a similar suggestion in 2008 (Symbols, Spring 2008 issue, pp. 4-7). Recent research by Carlos Pallan adds to the corpus of the stairway, here tentatively dubbed H.S. 1 (in suit of previous assignments in this post). See distributional map below as well; further comments are added below.
May 11 addition: I have now information on a HS at El Reinado and possible HS at El Chorro and San Clemente are under investigation.

Here follows the illustrated list of Maya sites with Hieroglyphic Stairways (sitios mayas con escaleras jeroglíficas/escalinitas jeroglíficas):

Ak'e' (Yucatan)
H.S. 1

H.S. 1 (Str., to be filled in)

H.S. 1 (L7-8)
H.S. 2(?)
H.S. 3(?)
H.S. 4(?)
(The information I currently have [through drawings] directs to the existence of 4 HS, but at present, based on archaeological information [number of possible steps; architectural lay-out] I have available, I hesitate to decide that there indeed were 4 HS at the site)

H.S. 1 (Str. 10L-26)

Dos Pilas
H.S. 1 (Str. L4-35)
H.S. 2 (Str. L5-49)
H.S. 3 (Str. L5-25)
H.S. 4 (Str. L5-35)

H.S. 1 (Edificio de los Cautivos)

H.S. 1 (Edificio de los Cinco Pisos)
H.S. 2 (Edificio de los Cinco Pisos)

El Caribe
H.S. 1 (Str. 1)

El Palmar (Campeche)
H.S. 1 (Grupo Guzman)

El Peru
H.S. 1 (Str., to be filled in)
H.S. 2 (Str., to be filled in)

El Reinado
(map in preparation)
H.S. 1

El Resbalon
H.S. 1 (West Plaza)
H.S. 2 (North Plaza)
H.S. 3 (East Plaza)
H.S. 4 (to be filled in)

H.S. 1 (Str. 25)
H.S. 2 (Str. 29)
H.S. 3 (Str. 28)

La Amelia
H.S. 1 (Str. 1)

La Corona
H.S. 1 (Str. 13Q-3)
H.S. 2 (Str. 13Q-2)
H.S. 3 (Str. 13Q-4)

La Linterna 2 (Alta Verapaz)
H.S. 1 (Str. 1)

H.S. 1 (Str. 4)

H.S. 1 (Str. B-18)
(this stairway may have originated from Caracol, taken to Naranjo as a possible war trophy)

H.S. 1 (Str. 2B10)
H.S. 2 (Str. 2B11)

H.S. 1 (Palace, House C)

Punta de Chimino
H.S. 1 (Str. 13)

H.S. 1 (Str. 6)

Sabana Piletas (Campeche)
H.S. 1 (Edificio Glifos)

Seibal (aka. Ceibal)
H.S. 1 (Str. A-14)

H.S. 1 (Str. 31)
H.S. 2 (Str. 44)
H.S. 3 (Str. 64)

H.S. 1 (Str. to be filled in)

H.S. 1 (Chanchimez) (or is it just a single step)

H.S. 1 (Str. 5)
H.S. 2 (Str. 33)
H.S. 3 (Str. 44)
H.S. 4 (Str. 41)
H.S. 5 (Str. 20)
H.S. 6 (Str. to be filled in)

H.S. 1 (Str. S5E1-1)

Possible Hieroglyphic Stairway(s) at
Altar de Sacrificios (Str. A-1) (what I now know is that a single inscribed stone was found at the stairs of Str. A-1; I am looking for more information)
Copan (Str. 10L-12's Reviewing Stand is under investigations as possible HS)
Izamal (probably at the K'inich K'ak' Mo')
Quirigua (Str.1; under investigation)
May 7 addition: Of at least one other site I now know that there is a true HS, but the information will be released later as the project itself officially has not yet released this information
May 11 addition: Information for Altar de Sacrificios is anything but conclusive. The context of the single stone is difficult to ascertain based on the reports I have available. The HS at El Reinado is described and illustrated in Report 18 of the Atlas Arqueológico de Guatemala (reference provided by Jeff Buechler on May 11). Possible HS at El Chorro and San Clemente are under investigation. The single hieroglyphic step at the Chanchimez at Uxmal remains problematic; as far as my research now goes, the original context is very difficult to ascertain (see Graham 1996 and Pollock 1980 for information on where the stones were found).

May 7 addition: Here follows a ditributional map of the Maya area showing the location of Maya sites with Hieroglyphic Stairways that I currently have identified (the location of the sites is approximate; check for updates):

While I was orga-nizing the distribu-tional map it became clear to me that there is an intriguing pattern in sites that have one or more HS (and this is based on what I currently know as more sites may come to light; the additional site mentined above but not named falls into one of the areas described below):
= Northwest: Edzna, Sabana Piletas, Oxkintok, Uxmal, Ak'e'
= Northeast to North Central: Calakmul, Dzibanche, El Resbalon, El Palmar, Yo'okop
= Central 1, Martyr Drainage: El Peru, La Corona
= Central 2, Usumacinta & Pasion Drainage: Cancuen, Dos Pilas, El Caribe, Itzan, La Amelia, Machaquila, Punta de Chimino, Seibal, Tamarindito, Yaxchilan
= East: Copan, Pusilha, Naranjo (originally from Caracol)
Palenque and La Linterna 2 seem to be the "odd balls out", but I think I can explain them, albeit very tentative. Palenque has a HS as Calakmul has a HS. El Peru and La Corona may emulate the Calakmul HS, as they have strong ties to Calakmul. The Palenque HS opens with the defeat by Calakmul. Perhaps the Palenque dynasty chose to use a foreign/Calakmul architectural feature to refer to the defeat by Calakmul and the rebirth of the Palenque kingdom.
La Linterna 2 in the Alta Verapaz may have drawn the template from the Usumacinta and Pasión drainage. The Río Chixoy is the riverine (cultural) connector from the Alta Verapaz to that area as it ultimately flows into the Usumacinta.
In the coming time I hope to add more information as my project evolves and extends.
May 8 addition: The map has been updated, with the location of Tonina included. The very likely HS at Tonina (research on its existence, location, and monuments that form part of it is still underway) provides a possible clue to yet another area in which HSs were constructed. Palenque and Tonina share a history, defined by war actions (see Martin and Grube "Chronicle of the Maya Kings and Queens"). The origin of the HS template at Palenque, I suggested yesterday, may still be valid, this awaits further research (and it shows how fast ideas may and can change based on the availability of new information).

Sampler of Images of Hieroglyphic Stairways

Sabana Piletas (Edificio Glifos)

El Caribe (Str. 1)

Edzna (Edificio de los Cinco Pisos)

Copan (Str. 10L-26)

La Amelia (Str. 1)

Palenque (Palace, House C)

Dos Pilas, H.S. 2, Central Portion (Str. 5L-49)

Yaxchilan, H.S. 2, Step VII (Str. 33)

El Palmar, H.S. 1 (Grupo Guzman)

Cancuen (Palace, HS location indicated by arrow)

This preliminary listing will be edited in the coming time (maps added May 4-8, 2011). I thank Joel Skidmore of Mesoweb for his permission to use his digital maps in this Maya News Update and who kindly produced two maps especially for this post. I hope to provide images of some of the Hieroglyphic Stairways as well. I thank Jeff Buechler, Guido Krempel, Carlos Pallan, Christian Prager, and Elli Wagner for their help in tracking down some hard to find information and their suggestions relative to other possible hieroglyphic stairways, some of which were included in recent days.


Anonymous Sallie said...

Listing all the hieroglyphics with maps is such a worthwhile project. If that list is available elsewhere, I am not aware of it.
And I thank you for having it in English. I check your blog everyday to see what new info you have. I live in Mérida and have visited many of the sites you show.

9:37 PM  
Anonymous Claudia Guajardo-Yeo said...

What a great compilation you have made here of all the Mayan stairways with hieroglyphs!! I had read that there were few and was wondering about their locations.

Thank you so much for all the information and the pictures, which give a lot of context to this exciting news.

Best regards and best wishes and congratulations again for having such great, informative blogs!

Claudia Guajardo-Yeo

1:24 AM  
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