Ams 14C dating of the mayan codex of mexico revisited

Corina Solís, Miguel Martínez Carrillo, María Rodríguez-Ceja, Efraín Chávez, J. Andrés Christen, A. J.Timothy Jull

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The Mayan Codex of Mexico (MCM), the only Mayan codex found in the 20th century, was unveiled in 1971 during the Ancient Maya Calligraphy exhibition at Club Grolier. The codex comprises 10 pages of bark paper in accordion format, coated with a layer of plaster on both sides. It illustrates the synodic cycles of Venus, with its four phases. Since its discovery, the MCM has been subject to controversy and discussions about its authenticity. In 2016, a group of specialists led by Baltazar Brito chief of the National Library of Anthropology and History, carried out an exhaustive study of the codex with the purpose of determining its temporality and authenticity. In this work, the pre-Columbian authenticity of the codex is verified by the radiocarbon (14C) technique using AMS. Two cleaning procedures were contrasted: the standard acid-base-acid (ABA) protocol and a second one with Soxhlet plus ABA. Results obtained when samples were prepared following ABA protocol only, placed the age of the bark paper between 991 and 1147 cal AD. The second cleaning method with Soxhlet plus ABA, resulted in younger ages, between 1159 and 1261 cal AD. However, we consider that when Sohxlet is used as part of the cleaning protocol, organic contaminants are reduced to a minimum, and 14C dates are more reliable. These results indicate that the vegetal support of the MCM belongs to Postclassical Mayan period and place it as the oldest known manuscript of America found to date.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1543-1550
Number of pages8
Issue number6
StatePublished - Dec 2020


  • Grolier Codex
  • Mayan Codex
  • radiocarbon

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Archaeology
  • Earth and Planetary Sciences(all)


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