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This undated handout picture by the Tak'alik Ab'aj Archaeologial National Park released by the Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and Sports shows a stone at the Tak'alik Ab'aj archaeological site, in El Asintal municipality, Retalhuleu department, Guatemala. A 2,000 year-old stone discovered in Guatemala in 2018 releals the beginning of writing in the Mayan culture, which dominated the south of Mexico and part of Central America, informed experts on March 10, 2020. Guatemalan Ministry of Culture and Sports / AFP.
A 2,000 year old stela recently discovered in Guatemala has revealed examples of the genesis of Mayan writing, according to experts studying the ancient civilization that dominated much of Central America.
Known as Stela 87, the stone was discovered in September 2018 at the Tak'alik Ab'aj archaelogical park in El Asintal, 85 miles (140 kilometers) southwest of the capital.
The stela, dating from 100 AD, provides an early example of Mayan writing, German expert Nikolai Grube told an event at Guatemala's National Palace of Culture on Tuesday.
"The great importance of Stela 87 is that it is an early example of the development of writing in Mesoamerica," said Grube, speaking by video-link from Mexico.
"Tak'alik Ab'aj was a place of experimentation with writing," he said.
Experts are still trying to decipher the hieroglyphs on the stone, but Grube said that while it provided no "linguistic reading", it showed evidence of a ruler and his titles in "an early Mayan text."
Tak'alik Ab'aj was a city originally inhabited by Olmecs from around 1,500 BC to 100 AD.