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Old Glyphs, New Findings

Tales from a Late Classic Maya Panel

On Saturday, September 29, in conjunction with the special exhibition All Sides Considered, Dr. Alexandre Tokovinine gave an illustrated talk focused on a Maya panel featured in the exhibit. Recent research on the carved limestone panel in the Dumbarton Oaks Museum collection offers important new insights into the political turmoil that characterized the twilight of Classic Maya civilization. The Terminal Classic Period (A.D. 800-909) saw the demise of the great city of Palenque. In its wake, the neighboring city of Chancala rose to prominence. Glyphic decipherments and recent archaeological findings combine to suggest that the Dumbarton Oaks panel originated in Chancala at this time. Dr. Tokovinine’s talk detailed how 3-D optical imaging of the monument revealed previously-overlooked details of the carving. Examination of the panel's imagery and texts has provided intriguing new perspectives on Maya writing, politics, and beliefs.

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