Ancient Mesoamerica

KAMINALJUYU STELA 10: Script classification and linguistic affiliation

David F.  Mora-Marín  a1 c1
a1 Department of Linguistics, 326 Dey Hall, CB 3155, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, Chapel Hill, NC 27599, USA

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This paper examines various lines of evidence for the classification and linguistic affiliation of writing at Late Preclassic Kaminaljuyu. The linguistic evidence for the ethnic composition of the Maya highlands and Pacific slopes during the Late Preclassic period points to contact among Ch'olan-Tzeltalan, Greater K'iche'an, and other non-Mayan languages, and to a dominant political economic role of Ch'olan-Tzeltalan. The epigraphic evidence supports classifying the script together with the Lowland Mayan script, and separately from the Epi-Olmec script, and hints at the presence of uniquely Ch'olan traits, some of which have been pointed out by other authors. A comparison with contemporaneous texts of unambiguous Lowland Mayan (Ch'olan or Yukatekan) affiliation suggests an overlap of orthographic, calligraphic, and semantic traits. Both lines of evidence support the hypotheses that Ch'olan-Tzeltalan speakers were the innovators of the Maya script, and that such a development perhaps took place in the Maya highlands. At the very least, the evidence points to a much closer relationship between the Maya highlands and lowlands during the Late Preclassic than previously thought.

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