Large Mayan Frieze Found in Guatemala

Archeologists were exploring pyramid
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Aug 8, 2013 3:55 PM CDT

(Newser) – Archaeologists have found an "extraordinary" Mayan frieze richly decorated with images of deities and rulers and a long dedicatory inscription. The frieze was discovered in the northern Province of Petenelli by a team led by Guatemalan archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli, a professor at Tulane. The archaeologists were exploring a Mayan pyramid that dates to AD 600 in an area that is home to other classic ruin sites. The high-relief stucco sculpture, which measures 26 feet by 6 feet, includes three main characters wearing rich ornaments of quetzal feathers and jade sitting on the heads of monsters.

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The frieze, which was found in July, depicts the image of gods and godlike rulers and gives their names. The inscription is composed of some 30 glyphs in a band that runs at the base of the structure. For the record, the building is believed to have been commissioned by Ajwosaj, king of the neighboring city-state of Naranjo, and vassal of the powerful Kaanul dynasty. A government statement calls it "the most spectacular frieze seen to date," though an expert in Mayan epigraphy not involved in the discovery thinks that's a bit a stretch. Still, he adds, "It's really impressive." (Read more Guatemala stories.)

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