Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Mayan Secrets Come to Light

Magazine article Americas (English Edition)

Mayan Secrets Come to Light

Article excerpt

Strange as it may seem, the rich soil of central El Salvador has given up clues which may eventually contribute to today's food production methods. It is also producing a veritable goldmine of potential information on the lifestyles of the peoples of Mesoamerica 1,000 years ago. So states Dr. Payson Sheets whose archaeological team from the University of Colorado recently uncovered what may turn out to be the oldest known fragment of Mayan manuscript in existence. It is called a "codes", the term scholars use to describe the books in the shape of a folded fan that contain the writing records of the ancient people of Mesoamerica. Sheets' team discovered the fragment under 17 feet of ash in a small house at the Joya de Ceren site some 16 miles northwest of San Salvador. It had been buried during the eruption of Laguna Caldera volcano in 600 A.D.

The manuscript fragment may become the key to a discovery of far-reaching importance, the University of Colorado team leader declared. The site provides a unique opportunity to study the life of the common peopld of Mesoamerica -- "the forgotten people of pre-history," as Sheets calls them. The skilled farmers of the central Salvadoran plateau may have developed dryland farming techniques that could contribute to today's food production methods. …

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