Reevaluating Chronology and Historical Content in the Maya Books of Chilam Balam

Academic Article


  • This article examines the so-called First Chronicle of the Maya Books of Chilam Balam, a segment of shared content found in three of the native copybooks from northern Yucatán, including the Tizimin, the Chumayel, and the Maní, also known as the Códice Pérez. I reevaluate the chronology and historical content of the First Chronicle found in these books by examining the following: (1) the dates applied to the katun cycles (increments of roughly twenty-year periods) in light of recent archaeological finds from Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Champotón, and Mayapán; (2) Maya conventions of time as expressed in the katun chronicles; (3) the shared subject matter found in all three books; and (4) the internal structure and transcription conventions of the First Chronicle. This study suggests that the early chronicles may offer a larger measure of historical accuracy and reliability than is currently accepted.
  • Status

    Publication Date

  • 2014
  • Has Subject Area

    Published In

  • Ethnohistory  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Start Page

  • 681
  • End Page

  • 713
  • Volume

  • 61
  • Issue

  • 4