Archaeologists unearthed a stone scoreboard used in an ancient soccer-like ball game at the iconic Mayan Chichen Itza archaeological site in Mexico’s Yucatan peninsula this week.
According to a statement from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History, the circular sculpture, which measures little more than 32 centimeters (12.6 inches) in diameter and weighs 40 kilograms (88 lb), depicts hieroglyphic lettering encircling two players standing next to a ball (INAH).
“In this Mayan site, it is rare to find hieroglyphic writing, let alone a complete text,” said Francisco Perez, one of the archaeologists coordinating the investigations in the Chichanchob complex, also called Casa Colorada.
The stone, believed to be a scoreboard, dates from between 800 AD and 900 AD.
The ball game was a traditional practice of Mesoamerican peoples and is believed to have had ritual undertones.
INAH researchers are now preparing to take high-resolution images of the text and iconography for detailed study, while preparing it for conservation.
The Chichen Itza complex, declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO, is one of the main archaeological centers of the Mayan civilization in the Yucatan Peninsula. According to official data, about 2 million people visit the site every year.