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H 290 x W 205 mm

190 pages

101 figures, 5 tables (colour throughout)

Published Jun 2023

Archaeopress Archaeology


Paperback: 9781803274850

Digital: 9781803274867

DOI 10.32028/9781803274850

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Mesoamerica; Epigraphy; Writing Systems; Pre-Columbian Americas

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Archaeopress Pre-Columbian Archaeology 18

Western Mesoamerican Calendars and Writing Systems

Proceedings of the Copenhagen Roundtable

Edited by Mikkel Bøg Clemmensen, Christophe Helmke

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Mesoamerica is one of the few places to witness the independent invention of writing. Bringing together new research, papers discuss the writing systems of Teotihuacan, Mixteca Baja, the Epiclassic period and Aztec writing of the Postclassic. These writing systems represent more than a millennium of written records and literacy in Mesoamerica.



A Few Words on the Copenhagen Roundtable and its Proceedings – Christophe Helmke and Mikkel Bøg Clemmensen ;

Chapter 1: The Writing System of Teotihuacan: An Overview – Davide Domenici ;

Chapter 2: The Writing System of Western Oaxaca: The Ñuiñe Style in a Regional Context – Ángel Iván Rivera Guzmán ;

Chapter 3: The Writing System of Epiclassic Central Mexico – Christophe Helmke and Jesper Nielsen ;

Chapter 4: What happened to TLATOANI and tlăhtŏhkĕh? Three classes of signs and two types of spellings in Nahuatl hieroglyphic writing – Albert Davletshin ;

Chapter 5: The Lienzos de Tlaxcala & Quauhquechollan: The Conquest of Guatemala and Sixteenth Century Nahuatl Hieroglyphic Writing – Margarita Cossich Vielman ;

Chapter 6: Precolumbian Precursors to the Central Mexican Colonial Calendar Wheels – Mikkel Bøg Clemmensen ;

Chapter 7: The Nahua Year Revisited: Translating Temporal Conceptions – Ana Díaz ;

Resúmenes ;

Author Biographies

About the Author

Mikkel Bøg Clemmensen is a doctoral fellow at the Institute for Cross-cultural and Regional Studies at the University of Copenhagen. He has a BA in the Science of Religion and an MA in American Indian Languages and Cultures; his field of study is religion and art in Colonial Mexico. Mikkel has previously published articles on colonial church art. He is currently finishing his dissertation on the continuity of the Central Mexican calendar systems during the Colonial era.

Christophe Helmke is Associate Professor of American Indian Languages and Cultures at the Institute of Cross-cultural and Regional Studies, at the University of Copenhagen, Denmark. Since 1996, he has participated on and led excavations, archaeological reconnaissance and epigraphic documentation at a variety of sites in Belize, Guatemala and Mexico. Since 2019 he has served as co-Principal Investigator of The Central Mexican Writing Systems and Calendars project, funded by the Velux Foundations.


The present volume cannot address all of these issues, but it does make a first break toward a better understanding of these structurally similar writing systems. The scripts of western Mesoamerica are of great importance for the study of writing systems in general, precisely because of their distinctive interplay between script and image, lack of linearity, and flexibility in the arrangement of hieroglyphic signs. In this respect, the volume is also highly recommended reading for scholars concerned with the evolution and structure of writing systems from a theoretical and comparative perspective.’ – Nikolai Grube (2023): Antiquity Vol. 97