This book is the culmination of fifty years of research by one of the foremost scholars in the field of Pre-Classic Mesoamerican studies, particularly focusing on the important site of Izapa, located on the southern Pacific coast of Mexico near the border of Guatemala. Archaeologist V. Garth Norman began his work at Izapa in 1962 and continued to work at the site for two decades on behalf of the New World Archaeological Foundation, resulting in the publication of his Izapa Sculpture: Album in 1973, Izapa Sculpture: Text in 1976, and Astronomical Orientations of Izapa Sculptures in 1980, a pioneering contribution to the important field of archaeoastronomy.
Izapa is the largest and most important Late Formative (500 BC–AD 200) center in the region, with large pyramidal structures constructed around a number of plazas dotted with sculpted monuments placed at key points. More than eighty carved monuments are known from the site, an unprecedented wealth of art and a key resource to our understanding of ancient Mesoamerican society and theology. Norman begins with the premise, first proposed by Vincent Malmström in 1973, that Izapa's latitude makes it the perfect candidate for the origin of the two most important ancient Mesoamerican calendars.