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Giant Maya Carvings Found in Guatemala

The enormous frieze—which measures 26 feet by nearly 7 feet (8 meters by 2 meters)—depicts human figures in a mythological setting, suggesting these may be deified rulers. It was discovered in July in the buried foundations of a rectangular pyramid in Holmul.

Maya archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli and his team were excavating a tunnel left open by looters when they happened upon the frieze. “The looters had come close to it, but they hadn’t seen it,” Estrada-Belli said.

According to Estrada-Belli, the frieze is one of the best preserved examples of its kind. “It’s 95 percent preserved. There’s only one corner that’s not well preserved because it’s too close to the surface, but the rest of it isn’t missing any parts,” said Estrada-Belli, who is affiliated with Tulane University, Boston University, and the American Museum of Natural History and who is also a National Geographic Explorer. His excavations at Holmul were supported by the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program.

Maya archaeologist Marcello Canuto agreed, calling the frieze “amazingly and beautifully preserved.”

“We often dream of finding things this well preserved, and Francisco did it,” said Canuto, who is the director of the Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University in New Orleans; he was not involved in the project.

For example, despite being mostly faded away now, traces of red, blue, green, and yellow paint are still visible on the frieze.

“It gives you an idea of how intricate and ornate these sites that we are excavating must have been during their apogee,” Canuto said. “These sites must have been a feast for the eyes when they were inhabited.”

David Stuart, a Maya hieroglyph expert at the University of Texas at Austin, pointed out that archaeologists think most large Maya temples were probably decorated with similar sorts of designs.

“But not all temples were so carefully buried and preserved like this,” said Stuart, who did not participate in the project. “Also, each temple facade was slightly different and therefore unique in terms of its detail and message.” (Explore an interactive map of key Maya sites.)

 

Caught Between Two Great Powers

The section of the temple at Holmul where the frieze was found dates back to about 590 A.D., which corresponds to the Maya classical era, a period defined by the power struggles between two major Maya dynasties: Tikal and Kaanul.

The two kingdoms competed with one another for resources and for control of other, smaller Maya city-states. Until now, however, it had been unclear which dynasty Holmul owed its allegiance to, but an inscription on the newly discovered frieze reveals that the temple was commissioned by Ajwosaj, ruler of a neighboring city-state called Naranjo, which archaeologists know from other discoveries was a vassal city of the Kaanul kingdom.

“We now know that Holmul was under the influence of the Kaanul dynasty,” Canuto said.

In 2012, Canuto’s team found and deciphered a series of hieroglyphically inscribed panels at another Maya city of a similar size to Holmul, called La Corona, which was also under the patronage of the Kaanul kingdom.

Recent discoveries at sites like La Corona and Holmul are helping reveal how these sites, despite being relatively small compared with some of their neighbors, were important players on the region’s larger geopolitical stage.

 

“We’re now beginning to appreciate how all these hierarchical levels of sites were involved in a larger political game that put them on [the side of either Tikal or Kaanul],” Canuto explained. (See “Why the Maya Fell.”)

All About Location

Why was Holmul—a minor city that was home to only 10,000 to 20,000 people—so important to the Tikal and Kaanul dynasties?

Previous work by Estrada-Belli suggests Holmul occupied a strategic position for both kingdoms. The city lay along the best east-west route between the Tikal dynasty’s capital city, also called Tikal, and the coast. It also lay along a north-south route between the Kaanul capital city of Dzibanche and the Guatemalan highlands that did not pass through Tikal territory.

The Guatemalan highlands contained precious resources such as basalt, obsidian, and jade that were coveted by both kingdoms.

“A [Maya] king without jade was no king at all,” Canuto said.

By controlling Holmul in the east and La Corona in the west, the Kaanul dynasty was able to effectively access these riches without going through the capital city of its rival.

(See video of a Maya mural and calendar uncovered by National Geographic grantee Bill Saturno in Guatemala.)

Staying Put for Now

The frieze still lies buried in Holmul where it was initially discovered because it is too big to move, said lead archaeologist Estrada-Belli.

“We’re going to try to preserve it and create a stable environment around it so people can eventually visit it,” he said.

“We’re very concerned about its present condition, so we had to re-bury the entrance tunnel to keep the humidity and climate around it stable.”

The find is exciting readers around the web. @JalilCan tweeted, “I keep seeing “Ancient Maya Carvings found…” these Archaeologists NEED TO LEAVE STUFF FOR PEOPLE LIKE ME TO FIND.”

Other tweeters talked up the struggle between Maya powers hinted at in the frieze, while others remarked at how the carvings used to be brightly colored.

This photo mosaic of the recently unearthed Maya frieze in the city of Holmul was digitally stitched together from hundreds of high-resolution photos by team member Alexandre Tokovinine, a Maya epigrapher at Harvard University.

The frieze depicts three human figures wearing elaborate bird headdresses and jade jewelry. They are seated cross-legged over the head of a Maya mountain spirit. A cartouche on their headdresses identifies each of them by name. The central figure’s name is the only readable one: Och Chan Yopaat, meaning “the storm god enters the sky.”

Estrada-Belli and his team speculate that Och Chan Yopaat may have been the leader that the Naranjo king, Ajwosaj, established as the ruler of Holmul after wresting the city back from the Tikal dynasty.

Stuart, of the University of Texas, said he agreed with this interpretation. “This frieze features a ruler we’ve never seen before in the historical records,” he said. “He’s the one portrayed in the center, and it’s reasonable to guess he was a local ruler of Holmul, and an ally with the more powerful kingdom of Naranjo to the south, which in turn had its political connections to the [Kaanul kingdom].”

Big Discovery

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Royal Emblem

This close-up view shows a large hieroglyphic emblem that decorates the side of the building where the Maya frieze was discovered.

The emblem identifies the building as a royal lineage house that was probably dedicated to local rulers who were worshipped in the city as gods, Estrada-Belli explained.

 

 

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Ancient

A seal with the image of the god Apollo was found in the Jerusalem wall

Photo: City of David

A carved stone whose age is estimated at 2,000 years old adorned the ring and, apparently, was not used as a seal, although it was intended precisely for this. Archaeologists say that images of other gods are extremely rare in Jerusalem.

While exploring the ancient wall of Jerusalem in the west of the city, an unexpected find was made – a jasper seal depicting the Greek god Apollo, according to Daily Mail.

A carved stone whose age is estimated at 2,000 years old adorned the ring and, apparently, was not used as a seal, although it was intended precisely for this.

Scientists believe that although in Jerusalem it is extremely rare to find images of other gods, even such small ones, the owner of the seal apparently relied on “light, purity, health and success” that Apollo personified.

Archaeologist Eli Shukron, who took part in the excavation, said that this is the third such seal found since the time of the Second Jerusalem Temple. The first was found during excavations at Masada, and another – during the research of the Hebrew tombs on Mount Scopus.

“It is rare to find the image of the god Apollo in places identified with the Jewish population. When we found the gem, we asked ourselves:“ What is Apollo doing in Jerusalem? ”And why would a Jew wear a ring with a portrait of a foreign god?” Said Shukron.

Researchers note that Apollo, associated with divination, was one of the most revered gods of that time in the regions of the Eastern Mediterranean.

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Ancient

The Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization

Recently, in the northeast of Siberia, archaeologists have discovered the sites of ancient people thirty thousand years old. Before that, it was believed that the first people appeared there fourteen, fifteen millennia ago, that is, approximately when mammoths, cave lions and woolly rhinos disappeared. 

People were still considered to be responsible for the disappearance of these animals. Allegedly, the ancient people, who lived by hunting and gathering, mercilessly exterminated these animals for several centuries until they completely destroyed their population.

The decline in the number of rhinos and other animals does not coincide with the appearance of humans in this region, said the professor of evolutionary genetics at the Center for Paleogenetics Love Dalen.

New archaeological data refute this theory and testify in favor of some kind of global catastrophe that happened about 13 thousand years ago.

According to one of the versions, regular global cataclysms on Earth occur due to a regular change of poles (the Janibekov effect).

The Janibekov effect is the intermediate axis theorem, or the tennis racket theorem in classical mechanics – a statement about the instability of the rotation of a rigid body about the second principal axis of inertia. (Wikipedia)

The Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization
The Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization

It is believed that periodically, in the interval from 600 to 650 thousand years, the earth’s poles change, which is accompanied by global catastrophes. This is usually accompanied by powerful volcanic eruptions, intensified seething of mud springs, increased degassing, earthquakes and tsunamis, which ultimately leads to fatal changes in the climate and topography of the planet’s surface.

These practically proven facts about the global catastrophe that happened on Earth 13 thousand years ago also indirectly confirm the possible existence of an ancient (antediluvian) civilization in the northern part of the planet.

There is almost no intelligible evidence of the high development of antediluvian civilizations. There are controversial and unrecognized by science artifacts, legends, myths, traditions, strange anomalous areas, the poorly explored bottom of the ocean, probable places for mining stone and other minerals. 

All of this is either poorly researched or deliberately rejected and declared falsification. There are unique ancient structures made of stone, and their design features, construction methods and quality of stone processing are so high that sometimes they even surpass the capabilities of modern civilization.

The Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization
The Janibekov effect and other indirect evidence of the existence of antediluvian civilization

According to the testimony of some enthusiastic researchers, namely, they are trying to unravel the mysteries of history and return historical science itself to the mainstream of truth, traces of some ancient civilization have been preserved on the Kola Peninsula. 

Most likely – Atlantis, (or Hyperborea), because somewhere in this area supposedly was the legendary island of Atlantis.

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Ancient

A fierce embodiment of Earth: The Mayan structure used for direct dialogue with the gods

Scientists at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) working in Guatemala have found evidence of the ritual significance of the classic Maya pairings. They found a structure the likes of which had never been found in Mesoamerica.

According to EurekAlert, archaeologists visited the city of Ksultun, where an ancient bathhouse was found earlier. She received the name Los Sapos. Scientists have long known that the Maya built a kind of steam room – their baths, according to their principle of operation, were designed for profuse sweating.

These baths were believed to have religious significance. They also sent here for treatment, brought women in labor. However, new research showed that the importance of such structures was even more important. The fact is that the Los Sapos bath, dating from the early classical period (250-550 AD), turned out to be unlike any other ancient Mesoamerican bath.

The researchers concluded that this was not just a place for direct dialogue with the gods. The Maya considered this bath itself an amphibian goddess. Outside, near the entrance to it, scientists found an image of this little-known deity. The goddess is depicted squatting with legs on which iguanas and reed toads sit.

“No other structure in Mesoamerica – a bathhouse or anything else – is like this building,” says STRI archaeologist Ashley Sharp. the amphibian that personified this bath.”

According to lead author of the study, Mary Clarke, the name of this goddess remains undeciphered, although it is written next to the image. Preliminary analysis of the inscription led scientists to speculate that this goddess was responsible for the cycles of pregnancy. The connection between the ideas of the birth of children and the figures of reptiles is often traced in the Maya of the classical period.

She also noted that the Los Sapos baths have been actively used by the Sultun community for about 300 years. But then something important and frightening happened. The fact is that in the “doorway” archaeologists unearthed the remains of an adult man who was buried there around 600 AD.

The analysis showed that after that no one used the bath for another 300 years. Only three centuries after the funeral, someone re-entered this structure. It is interesting that this person or several people had a strictly defined goal – they dug out a burial place and took with them part of the remains.

The rest of them they put in another place, and in the vacated grave they lit a fire. Subsequently, they repeatedly put various offerings to the gods in this grave. Dogs, birds, reed toads and iguanas were sacrificed. Archaeologists found the remains of a child in this pit, as well as numerous stone tools and ceramic shards.

“Archaeologists often find clusters of artifacts that were probably dedicated to places of worship, but rarely is there such an obvious connection between artifacts and objects,” Sharpe says. “From the image on the outer wall of Los Zapos, we know it was a ‘steam room’ “It was a rare occasion for us to associate offerings with the role that this structure played in the life of the community.”

According to the authors of the work, the offerings were probably an attempt to seek help from the goddess who personified Los Sapos. Moreover, it could even be the last attempt to please a supernatural being and prevent the loss of their lands, which were abandoned shortly after the Mayan collapse in 900 AD.

“This supernatural figure is the fierce embodiment of Earth,” Clarke concludes. “When she is unhappy, she can take revenge or deny people the things they need to survive. they negotiated with this goddess for their survival. “

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