Wednesday, December 07, 2011

News: 'Roman' Mayan Tile

An interesting article from the internet, 2011:

"Comalcalco is a Mayan site surrounded by a rain forest in the Mexican state of Tabasco, It is the only Meso-American city constructed of fired bricks. (I will get to exactly what "fired bricks" are and where the process originated a little later) These ruins contain 372 mounds covering 40 sq. kilometers;so far only four of the 372 mounds have been completely excavated and they have revealed an acropolis,seven temples,two palaces,two structures and 20-30 tombs.
Found within these mounds were thousands of fired bricks that held inscriptions depicting animals,people,plants,houses,temples,ships,letters and sacred symbols but surprisingly many had Mediterranean elements with two even showing elephants!

In the early 1960's a preliminary site survey it was revealed two bricks with inscriptions on them.Afterwards between the years 1975-1978 Mexican archeologist Pancio Salazar,at the time working for the national institute of anthropology & history of Mexico (I.N.A.H) continued more excavations discovering forty six hundred inscribed bricks that were later examined.

Most of the inscriptions were recognizable as Mayan hieroglyphs.but a few turned out to be completely different,causing excitement and speculation.It was not until 1980 after Salazars death that the collection of bricks were photographed & cataloged by archeologist & epigrapher Neil Steede. 

Steede showed the photos to professor Barry Fell then leader & founder of 'the epigraphic society'.

Fell went onto publish a series of papers on the subject of the bricks for ESOP (The epigraphic society occasional papers) 'the Comalcalco bricks:part 1,the Roman phase' (published in Vol. 19)
Fell drew attention to what he called "Mason's Marks"out of the forty six hundred bricks examined,fifteen hundred were marked in this way.

What was so interesting about these marks was their striking similarity to Roman mason's marks found on similar bricks in Britain among other places.The Romans used these marks to keep a tally of individual productivity and slaves.

Each of their quarry slaves were required to produce close to two hundred bricks a day,by marking the bricks each slave made with his personal symbol,the slave could prove he was working at full speed.

Also it is believed that The Roman bricks are often stamped with the mark of the legion that supervised their production ..."

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