For the first time, archaeologists excavating at the large, monumental Maya center of Xultún in Guatemala have uncovered a structure featuring 9th century wall paintings with numbers and calculations related to the Maya calendars, including numerical records of lunar and possibly planetary cycles. The finding predates by several hundred years the heretofore oldest known record of calendars, which were found in the famous Maya bark-paper Codices.
Tucked away under the dense vegetation of Guatemala's Peten region rain forest, the structure is theorized to be the house of a scribe with connections to the Maya king or royal family of Xultún.
"For the first time we get to see what may be actual records kept by a scribe, whose job was to be official record keeper of a Maya community," said archaeologist and expedition leader William Saturno of Boston University. "It's like an episode of TV's 'Big Bang Theory,' a geek math problem and they're painting it on the wall. They seem to be using it like a blackboard."
The paintings were found in one room of the house structure. They represent the first Maya art to be found on the walls of a house. All other Maya paintings adorned such structures as temples, royal tombs and other ritual structures.