Wednesday, August 20, 2014 Headlines & Global News

Maya Sculpture Discovered; "The Most Spectacular' Depiction Of Crowning A Snake Kingdom Ruler (SLIDESHOW)

By Rebekah Marcarelli r.marcarelli@hngn.com | Aug 07, 2013 03:43 PM EDT

A profile of the ancient frieze.
(A. Tokovinine © Proyecto Arqueológico Holmul / CMHI de Harvard Univesity)

"The most spectacular" Mayan frieze was discovered in an ancient pyramid. 

The pyramid-piece is believed to be from 600 CE, it depicts an elaborate display of rulers and gods, a Proyecto Arqueologico Holmul press release reported.

"It is one of the most fabulous things I have ever seen," archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belliof the Holmul Archaeological Project, told USA Today. "The preservation is wonderful because it was very carefully packed with dirt before they started building over it."

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The sculpture is made from stucco, and measures at about 30-feet-long, six-feet-tall.

The frieze was hidden by a staircase inside an ancient tomb.

Ancient pictures were painted in red, blue, and green on the piece. The painting appears to depict "three men wearing bird headdresses and jade jewels seated cross-legged over the head of a mountain spirit." The team believes it could be portraying the crowing of an ancient king.

"We did not have the details of the ceremonies to install a new king as we have here, until now," Estrada-Belli, who participated in the research, said.

Researchers have recently been finding out more about conflicts between ancient Maya kingdoms, which spawned nasty battles and human sacrifice.

The frieze is believed to have belonged to one of these groups, called the "snake kingdom." An inscription on the sculpture bears the name of one of the kingdom's powerful kings.

The pyramid where the frieze was found is believed to contain the body of a highly regarded leader. A skeleton was found near the frieze that had teeth filled with jade beads and other expensive artifacts on its person.

In a city 40-miles-away, researchers recently found an "inscribed standing stone, or stela, from the year 564." The piece also depicts the crowning of a new ruler.

"This is a period when kings were really beginning to express their might and see who would bend to their will," University of Illinois archaeologist Lisa Lucero, said of the stela

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