Scientists Finally Confirmed The Authenticity Of The Oldest Book Mayan Book Ever Discovered
For years, scientists weren’t sure whether the Grolier Codex, a 600-year-old book supposedly written by the Mayans, was real or a very detailed fake. When the Spanish came to America, they thoroughly destroyed the Mayans’ written works, making it easier for Europeans to spread their religion and culture in the New World. As a result, pre-Columbian Mayan writings are exceedingly rare. So when this particular codex was discovered in the 1960s, researchers had several reasons to doubt its authenticity.
If real, the Grolier Codex would be the oldest surviving book in the new world, and only the fourth surviving pre-Columbian Mayan work ever discovered.
The book surfaced when “pothunters,” looters who sold antiquities for profit, sold it to Dr. Josué Sáenz in 1965. Because it was “discovered” by looters, researchers were doubtful that the book was legitimate, but they kept it safe so they could do the proper research. After many years of scrutiny and doubt, advancements in dating technology made it possible for researchers to prove the validity of the book. In late 2015, scientists were finally able to put their money where their mouth was.
Researchers put the book’s creation at 1230, C.E., meaning the Grolier Codex is well over 700 years old.
Before modern radiocarbon dating techniques, researchers only had a few clues pointing in the direction of the Grolier Codex’s authenticity. The materials and pigment used to create the prints suggested it was real, but a good forger could easily replicate these things. And when you consider the Grolier Codex’s dubious discovery (looters found it in a cave near Tortuguero), anything less than a rigorous scientific confirmation would lead researchers to doubt. Though some debate still exists around the document’s validity, historical heavyweight Smithsonian has endorsed the document after the latest round of testing.
So what is the Grolier Codex?
The document was named after the venue where it was first displayed: the Grolier Club in New York. The 11-page artifact offered a glimpse into how much astrology affected Maya religion. As Dr. Michael D. Coe told the New York Times in 1971, “The Codex shows us for the first time that the Mayas considered all four phases of the Venus cycle to be equally malevolent and threatening to human welfare.” Thanks to the efforts of the scientific community, scientists have finally given back some of the history that was so violently taken from Mayan culture.