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Open Access Publications from the University of California

Discovering Discovery: Chich’en Itza, the Dresden Codex Venus Table and 10th Century Mayan Astronomical Innovation

Creative Commons 'BY-NC-ND' version 4.0 license

A new reading of Dresden Codex Page 24, the “Preface” to the Venus Table, is presented, demonstrating a much-improved overall coherence.  This reading of hieroglyphic text, mathematical intervals, and calendric data specifically identifies the Mayan Long Count dates of the Venus Table’s historical correction.  The resulting Long Count placement of the manuscript’s Venus Table suggests that it was an indigenous astronomical discovery made at Chich’en Itza, possibly under the patronage of K’ak’ U Pakal K’awiil — one of the most prominent historical figures in the inscriptions of the city during its “epigraphic florescence.”  Revealing the logic underlying the construction of the page, the revised reading suggests a slightly less-accurate approximation to Venus’s synodic period than the traditional interpretation allows, but introduces a justification for the graphical layout of Page 24 that is more straightforward than traditional interpretations.

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