In Photos: Ancient Maya Carvings Exposed in Guatemala

Maya Discovery

(Image credit: F. Estrada-Belli)

While digging through a looter's tunnel in the ancient Maya city of Holmul, archaeologists exposed an amazingly well-preserved façade on the outside of a 1,400-year-old building. They are studying the artwork and inscriptions on the frieze to learn more about ancient Maya politics and religion. This part of the monumental carving shows an ancestral deity holding "first tamal" sign with feathered serpent.


(Image credit: F. Estrada-Belli ©Proyecto Arqueologico Holmul)

The frieze decorates the outside of a building that is mostly buried under rubble; archaeologists have only been able to explore part of the structure. This is a virtual reconstruction of building with the frieze.

1,400-Year-Old Facade

(Image credit: Estrada-Belli)

Archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli with newly found Holmul frieze (AD 600).

Ancient Burial

(Image credit: Jesus Lopez)

Last year, the archaeologists found a tomb near the site where they found the frieze.

Frieze Cleaning

(Image credit: F. Estrada-Belli)

Archaeologist Anya Shetler cleans an inscription below a glyph on the huge Maya frieze found in Holmul.

Royal Inscription

(Image credit: F. Estrada-Belli)

The name of Ajwosaj, one of the greatest Naranjo rulers, was expressed in this glyph inscribed into the frieze.

Holmul Mosaic

(Image credit: ©CMHI of Harvard University/Proyecto Arqueologico Holmul)

This image of the 26-foot-long (8 meters) and 6.5-foot-high (2 m) Holmul frieze is a mosaic of photos.

Megan Gannon
Live Science Contributor
Megan has been writing for Live Science and since 2012. Her interests range from archaeology to space exploration, and she has a bachelor's degree in English and art history from New York University. Megan spent two years as a reporter on the national desk at NewsCore. She has watched dinosaur auctions, witnessed rocket launches, licked ancient pottery sherds in Cyprus and flown in zero gravity. Follow her on Twitter and Google+.