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No. 99: May-Jun 1995

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The Inscribed Bricks Of Comalcalco

Comalcalco is a Mayan site in Tabasco, southeastern Mexico. It is unusual as Mayan sites go because its 375 structures, including a large stepped pyramid, incorporate millions of fired bricks. Many of said bricks, when separated from their mortar, display various symbols as well as their makers' fingerprints. N. Steede collected a "small" sample of these bricks (4612 bricks weighing in at 21 tons) and photographed the inscriptions that decorated some 1,500 of them. Many bear what are interpreted as "masons' signs". These turn out to be virtually identical to those found on Roman bricks in the Old World. Conclusion:

"The illustrated bricks of Comalcalco are pieces to a grand puzzle, whose completed, final image may reveal a Roman Christian presence in the Americas a thousand years before the arrival of Columbus." (Ref. 1)

Typical mason's signs found on Roman bricks
Some typical mason's signs found on Roman bricks (left) and Comalcalco bricks (right). Many additional similarities are found between mason's signs from Comalcalco and those from Roman, Minoan, and ancient Greek sites. See Ref. 2.


1. Steede. Neil; "The Bricks of Comalcalco," Ancient American, 1:8, September/October 1994. 2. Fell, Barry; "The Comalcalco Bricks: Part 1, the Roman Phase," Occasional Papers, Epigraphic Society, 19:299, 1990.

From Science Frontiers #99, MAY-JUN 1995. 1995-2000 William R. Corliss