The Maya Codex of Mexico

(formerly the Grolier Codex)

In 1965, Dr. Josué Sáenz (a Mexican collector) was taken via plane to a remote location in the state of Tabasco, where he was shown several looted artifacts that were supposedly taken from a cave near Tortuguero in the Mexican state of Chiapas. One of the objects shown to him was a deteriorated codex, which was then given to historian Michael Coe and taken to the Grolier club in New York, where it remained until its repatriation to Mexico City in 1976. It was at this point that the codex received its first name, the Grolier Codex. 

For years since its discovery in Chiapas, Mexico, the Maya Codex of Mexico was rumored to be a fake. This was mainly due to its having been looted from its location of origin; however, it was also because the style of its execution was a unique blend of Maya and Mixtec style that was not as detailed as that of the other three codices already mentioned. However, in 2018, a team of scientists from Mexico City ran chemical tests that confirmed the ancient origin of the Maya Codex of Mexico and its creation date of 1021 – 1154 AD, which places it as the oldest surviving Maya codex. It was then that the codex’s name was changed to the Maya Codex of Mexico, a testament to the wide variety of Mesoamerican writing styles that must have existed during the Postclassic period. 

Page 6 of the Grolier Codex. Photo property of Justin Kerr.

Although badly damaged and containing only 10 of what appear to have been 20 original pages, the MCM appears to be a Venus almanac, documenting the movement of the planet through its four stations. It shows representations of warriors with captives and deities that represent different celestial bodies. 

The Maya Codex of Mexico is currently held at the Museo Nacional de Antropología in Mexico City, Mexico. Due to the document’s fragility, it is not on display to the public. However, high-resolution images are available for consultation at the URL below! 

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