Hieroglyphic Records

There are 3 types of widely acknowledged explicit astronomical records from the Classic period:  Moon ages, eclipses and a Venus event. 

The most readily accepted and earliest recognized are the Lunar Series records found within the Initial Series, often between the 260-Day Count and the 365-Day Count dates.  There is very good consistency across space and time with Lunar Series records, strongly suggesting that they were based on observation.  On the other hand, strict consistency does not exist, leading some scholars to believe that the 'zero date' of a lunar period was arbitrarily changed from time to time or place to place.  Other records, for example on a wall within Temple 11 at Copan, give a narrative description of the Moon Age as opposed to a number.  In this case, the text states that the Moon is new using the metaphor of a seedling just sprouting.

There is only one known hieroglyphic record of an eclipse from the Classic period; this is from the site of Santa Elena Poco Uinic.  Its importance has largely been restricted to considerations of the Calendar Correlation problem.

Finally, the only explicit planetary record from the Classic period is the Venus record from Copan Temple 11.  The verb recording the event is the same as that used throughout the DCVT, with a root of /k'al/, meaning 'to enclose.'

From the later Postclassic period, astronomical records are predominantly found within codices.  While there are multiple proposed astronomical records, the only unequivocal ones enjoying a consensus in the field are the Dresden Codex Venus Table (DCVT) and the Dresden Codex Eclipse Table (DCET).  

For the on-going discussion on hieroglyphic astronomical records, including proposals for some not listed on this page, please visit the Google Group Forum.