Circa 250-650 A.D., the thick limestone carving in shallow relief on one side, with a figural image surrounded by glyphic text. diameter 25in, depth 3 1/2in
Provenance: A California estate; Butterfields & Butterfields, San Francisco, circa 1985
The disc was probably a small altar, possibly set into the floor of a plaza or ballcourt. The central image, while a bit crude and eroded, shows a kneeling war captive, bound at the wrists and wearing some sort of emblematic device on his back (a name?). This posture and the overall style of the carving makes it clear that the stone dates to the Early Classic period, probably around 500 A.D. Even though the inscription does contain a date, it is difficult to decipher.
The inscription begins on the upper right at "3 o'clock", where four small dots appear in a line. This is the number coefficient of the opening day sign (Glyph A). The text of sixteen glyphs runs counter-clockwise around the stone. The date looks like it might be 4 Imix 9 Keh, but the day sign remains illegible. The event being commemorated is some sort of dedication, perhaps of the building or court where the stone was originally set, or of the altar itself. The word is pet, meaning to "encircle," which is obviously suggestive of the stone's shape.
A personal name appears in block G, an animal head located just in front of the captive's bound hands. This could possibly be the name of the Tikal ruler K'an Chitam, but it's not an obvious identification. The text goes on to repeat the pet verb and then gives what might be a place name or temple name. This and the rest of the inscription is very difficult, but near the very end of the text we might have a glyph for ballcourt - again an architectural reference.
In summary, a late Early Classic altar or marker, probably from the central lowlands of the Maya area. It may make reference to an important early ruler of Tikal, but this is not necessarily good evidence of its original provenience.