Archaeologists have uncovered a rare stone scoreboard at the Chichen Itza archaeological site in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula. The circular limestone, measuring just over 32 centimeters (12.6 inches) in diameter and weighing around 40 kilograms (88 pounds), is believed to be a scoreboard used for the ancient ball game known as Pok Ta Pok. The piece displays Mayan hieroglyphic writing and features two players standing next to a ball.
The discovery was made thanks to investment in archaeological sites under President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador’s government. The Chichanchob complex, also called Casa Colorada, is being investigated by archaeologists coordinating the excavation.
This Mayan site is not known for its hieroglyphic writing, let alone a complete text. Francisco Perez, one of the archaeologists coordinating the investigations, said, “the limestone circle can change the history of the site by providing a new element that we were not aware of.”
According to the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the scoreboard dates back to between 800 and 900 AD. This unique discovery could provide new information on pre-Columbian Mayan society, as it is believed to be one of the last hieroglyphics that reflect the Mayan culture of late antiquity, or around 650-900 A.D.
The ball game was a traditional practice of Mesoamerican peoples and is believed to have had ritual undertones. The circular limestone suggests it was used to keep score during the game.
The Chichen Itza complex is one of the main archaeological centers of the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula and has been declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. About 2 million people visit the site every year.
INAH researchers are preparing to take high-resolution images of the text and iconography for detailed study while preparing it for conservation. This unique piece could change the understanding of Mayan civilization and the significance of ball games in ancient Mesoamerican societies.