Jewel of Maya Art Unearthed in Guatemala

Rare panels found in jungle city depict ancient legend of creation
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 12, 2009 9:09 AM CDT

(Newser) – Archaeologists reclaiming the Mayans' biggest city from the Guatemalan jungle have uncovered the oldest known depiction of the ancient civilization's creation myth, reports Reuters. The carvings depict the heroic twins of Maya legend emerging from the underworld surrounded by cosmic monsters. They appear on a pair of 26-foot-long panels at the ancient city, known as El Mirador.

Another of the panels, which took three months to excavate, shows a Maya corn god framed by a serpent. The find "has tremendous antiquity and shows again the remarkable resilience of an ideology that's existed for thousands of years," said an archeologist. El Mirador—currently accessible only by helicopter or a 2-day hike through the jungle—is threatened by looters and deforestation.