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Advanced Technique, RTI, Used to Decipher Maya Glyphs
Reflection Transformation Imaging is being applied for the first time in Mexico on Maya sculptures. Photo: DMC INAH, H. Montano.
MEXICO CITY.- As part of most recent studies at Tonina Archaeological Zone, in Chiapas, a technique known as RTI (Reflection Transformation Imaging) is being applied for the first time in Mexico on Maya sculptures, with the aim of documenting the ancient monuments and having more details of inscriptions.

Carlos Pallan Gayol, archaeologist at the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), informed that the method has been applied on10 monuments. It allows manipulating light on a photographic sequence in an interactive way, obtaining great quality images.

Pallan, responsible of the Maya Hieroglyphic and Iconographic Heap (AJIMAYA) declared that although other Mesoamerican societies like Zapoteca, Mixe-Zoque and Nahua developed writing, Maya is by far the best understood and deciphered.

The archaeologist declared Tonina is the Maya site with more inscriptions known to present, being more than 300 the glyphs carved in monuments and some portable objects, quantity comparable only to the one found in Copan, Honduras.

Although Maya texts relate to wars, conquests and other events of great relevance, it is interesting the reference to details such as an author’s signature or anniversaries of members of a lineage.

“Different aspects help us envision that Tonina was an important city during its peak between 688 and 708 AD, when great K’inich B’aaknal Chaak ruled over it.”

These aspects are the monumentality and urbanism of the site; the fact that it ruled over Ocosingo Valley and influenced distant sites such as Bonampak; and the great amount of texts captured in monuments, ceramics and other sumptuous objects.

Pallan, also co director of Tonina Archaeological Project, mentioned that samples of highly developed writing can be located since 400-300 AC, being contemporary of written manifestations such as those in Monte Alban, Oaxaca.

“We know other civilizations developed writing as well, so it is not right to attribute it to Mayas, but to a Mesoamerican phenomenon that originated somewhere and diffused from there. Some specialists think these common features could be interpreted as forms of diffusion that parted from a Mother Culture (one of the earliest) to later ones, although new dating points out to more complex processes”, concluded the AJIMAYA head.

Mexico | National Institute of Anthropology and History | Carlos Pallan Gayol | Maya Glyphs |


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