University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Athropology


Author: Simon Martin

Maya Calendars

An Overview

By: Simon Martin

To read any Maya date one must first understand their numerical system. Unlike the ten Arabic symbols we use (0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, and 9) the Maya employed just three symbols: a dot for one, a bar for five, and one of three different signs for zero. Individual dots were […]


Time, Kingship, and the Maya Universe Maya Calendars

An Overview

By: Simon Martin

In 1832 constantine Samuel Rafinesque a polymath who made contributions to the fields of botany, zoology, linguistics, meteorology, and geology wrote to the celebrated decipherer of Egyptian hieroglyphs, Jean-François Champollion. The letter contained, among other things, his conclusion that ancient Maya numerals were formed from dots that represented the number one and bars that represented five. […]


Reports from the Field

City of the Serpent Kings: Calakmul, Mexico

By: Simon Martin

If you were to fly low over the forests of southeastern Mexico, about 35 km from the border with Guatemala, you would see two immense mounds rising high above the canopy. These ruined pyramids announce the presence of Calakmul, one of the greatest cities of Classic Maya civilization (300–900 CE). Beneath the trees lie 6,000 […]