Mayan Frieze Discovered In Guatemala Called 'Extraordinary'

mayan slide 1

Three male figures, seated and painted in black. The men, wearing only white loincloths and medallions around their necks and a head dress bearing another medallion and a single feather, were uncovered on the ruined house's west wall. The painting recreates the design and colors of the original Maya mural. Excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society. Painting by Heather Hurst

 

Dee Finney's blog

start date July 20, 2011

Today's date 8-8-13

page 540

 

TOPIC:  MAYAN FRIEZE FOUND

 

mayan cleaning

By SONIA PEREZ D.
08/08/13 12:43 AM ET EDT mayan frieze In this June 2013 photo released by Proyecto Arqueologico Holmul, archaeologist Anya Shetler cleans an inscription below a high-relief stucco sculpture recently discovered in the Mayan city of Holmul in the northern province of Peten, Guatemala. The frieze was found at this Mayan pyramid that dates to A.D. 600. It includes three main characters wearing rich ornaments of quetzal feathers and jade sitting on monsters heads. (AP Photo/Proyecto Arqueologico Holmul, Francisco Estrada-Belli) Francisco Estrada-Bali, Anthropology, Holmul, Kaanul Dynasty, Maya, Maya Frieze, Mayan Frieze, Mayan Glyphs, Mayans, Science News

GUATEMALA CITY -- Archaeologists have found an "extraordinary" Mayan frieze richly decorated with images of deities and rulers and a long dedicatory inscription, the Guatemalan government said Wednesday.

 

The frieze was discovered by Guatemalan archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli, a professor at Tulane University's Anthropology Department, and his team in the northern Province of Peten, the government said in a joint statement with Estrada-Belli.

"This is an extraordinary finding that occurs only once in the life of an archaeologist," Estrada-Belli said.

The archaeologists were exploring a Mayan pyramid that dates to A.D. 600 in an area that is home to other classic ruin sites when they came upon the frieze.

 

mayan tomb

 

"It's a great work of art that also gives us a lot of information on the role and significance of the building, which was the focus of our research," Estrada-Belli said.

 

The high-relief stucco sculpture, which measures 26 feet by 6 feet (8 meters by 2 meters), includes three main characters wearing rich ornaments of quetzal feathers and jade sitting on the heads of monsters.

 

The frieze, which was found in July, depicts the image of gods and godlike rulers and gives their names.

 

The dedicatory inscription "opens a window on a very important phase in the history of the classical period," Estrada-Belli said.

The inscription is composed of some 30 glyphs in a band that runs at the base of the structure.

 

The text, which was difficult to read, was deciphered by Alex Tokovinine, an epigraphist at Harvard University and contributor to the research project at Holmul, the site where the frieze was found.

 

Tokovinine said the building was commissioned by Ajwosaj, king of the neighboring city-state of Naranjo, and vassal of the powerful Kaanul dynasty, the statement said.

 

David Stuart, an expert in Mayan epigraphy at the University of Texas at Austin, called Tokovinine's reading of the text "excellent."

But while the government statement called it "the most spectacular frieze seen to date," Stuart was cautious about using superlatives.

"It's really impressive," Stuart said in an email to The Associated Press. But he added, "I certainly wouldn't say this is the `most spectacular' temple facade."

 

"There are other buildings in Maya archaeology that are just as magnificent, if not more so," Stuart wrote, pointing out the temple called "Rosalila" at Copan, Honduras, and a building excavated starting last year at the ruins of Xultun, Guatemala, which has not yet been uncovered in full.

 

Also Wednesday, Guatemalan President Otto Perez Molina presented the National Geographic Society with the Order of the Quetzal, Guatemala's highest award, for their research on the Mayan civilization.

 

Perez Molina thanked National Geographic for its support and said the society has "put on high the cultural heritage of the Mayan civilization."

 

Estrada-Belli is a National Geographic Explorer. His excavations at Holmul were supported by the Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala and funded by the National Geographic Society and other Guatemalan and foreign institutions.

___

Associated Press writer Mark Stevenson contributed to this report.

 

"Younger Brother Obsidian," as labeled on the north wall of the Maya city's house by an unknown hand, was painted in the 9th century A.D. Archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University excavates the house in the ruins of the Maya city of Xultún. Younger Brother Obsidian may have been the town scribe. Excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society. Photo by Tyrone Turner © 2012 National Geographic

 

  • Trees grow atop a newly discovered mound over a house built by the ancient Maya that contains the rendering of an ancient figure, possibly the town scribe. The house sits at the edge of the ancient site of Xultún in Guatemala, a city that once housed tens of thousands of people. Excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society. Photo by Tyrone Turner © 2012 National Geographic

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  • Three male figures, seated and painted in black. (see top of page)

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  • The men, wearing only white loincloths and medallions around their necks and a head dress bearing another medallion and a single feather, were uncovered on the ruined house's west wall. The painting recreates the design and colors of the original Maya mural. Excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society. Painting by Heather Hurst

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  • mayan frieze

     

    A Maya king, seated and wearing an elaborate head dress of blue feathers, adorns the north wall of the ruined house discovered at the Maya site of Xultún. An attendant, at right, leans out from behind the king's head dress. The painting by artist Heather Hurst recreates the design and colors of the original Maya artwork at the site. The excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society. Painting by Heather Hurst

  • A vibrant orange figure, kneeling in front of the king on the ruined house's north wall, is labeled "Younger Brother Obsidian," a curious title seldom seen in Maya text. The man is holding a writing instrument, which may indicate he was a scribe. The painting recreates the design and colors of the figure in the original Maya mural. Excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society. Painting by Heather Hurst

  • Four long numbers on the north wall of the ruined house relate to the Maya calendar and computations about the moon, sun and possibly Venus and Mars; the dates may stretch some 7,000 years into the future. These are the first calculations Maya archaeologists have found that seem to tabulate all of these cycles in this way. Although they all involve common multiples of key calendrical and astronomical cycles, the exact significance of these particular spans of time is not known. Illustration by William Saturno and David Stuart © 2012 National Geographic

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    The painted figure of a man -- possibly a scribe who once lived in the house built by the ancient Maya -- is illuminated through a doorway to the dwelling, in northeastern Guatemala. The structure represents the first Maya house found to contain artwork on its walls. The research is supported by the National Geographic Society. Photo by Tyrone Turner © 2012 National Geographic

  • Conservator Angelyn Bass cleans and stabilizes the surface of a wall of a Maya house that dates to the 9th century A.D. The figure of a man who may have been the town scribe appears on the wall to her left. Excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society. Photo by Tyrone Turner © 2012 National Geographic

  • Never-before-seen artwork -- the first to be found on walls of a Maya house -- adorn the dwelling in the ruined city of Xultún. The figure at left is one of three men on the house's west wall who are painted in black and wear identical costumes. Excavation and preservation of the site were supported by the National Geographic Society. Photo by Tyrone Turner © 2012 National Geographic

  • Archaeologist William Saturno of Boston University carefully uncovers art and writings left by the Maya some 1,200 years ago. The art and other symbols on the walls may have been records kept by a scribe, Saturno theorizes. Saturno's excavation and documentation of the house were supported by the National Geographic Society. Photo by Tyrone Turner © 2012 National Geographic

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