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Archaeologists Find Mayan 'Masterpiece' In Guatemala
New York Times ^ | 3-14-2002 | John Noble Wilford

Posted on 03/14/2002 4:42:29 PM PST by blam

March 14, 2002

Archaeologists Find Mayan 'Masterpiece' in Guatemala

By JOHN NOBLE WILFORD

rchaeologists exploring deep in the rain forest of Guatemala have uncovered what they think is the earliest intact wall painting of the Maya civilization. A depiction of scenes from mythology and ritual, the 1,900-year-old mural is being hailed by experts as a masterpiece.

Even though only part of the mural has been exposed so far, scholars said the scenes and portraits promised rare insights into the society and religion of the Maya. The paintings, dated about A.D. 100, are described as more extensive and better preserved than the only other existing piece of Pre-Classic wall art. What is known as the Maya Classic period lasted from A.D. 250 to about A.D. 900.

"It opens a window into the mythological and courtly life of the ancient Maya," said Dr. William Saturno, a lecturer at the University of New Hampshire and researcher at the Peabody Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology at Harvard.

Dr. Saturno led the team that found the mural in a buried room at the ruins of San Bartolo, a Maya ceremonial site that was previously unknown to archaeologists, in an uninhabited part of northeastern Guatemala. The discovery is being announced by the National Geographic Society, which supported the research, and is publishing an article on the findings in the April issue of its magazine.

A wall painting found at San Bartolo is about 1,900 years old.

Dr. David A. Freidel, an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas, was not a team member but has studied pictures and drawings of the mural scenes. To help bring the faded mural to life and possible understanding, an artist working with the researchers has studied photographs and drawn outlines of the scenes.

"It's as fine a mural as I've ever seen painted in Mesoamerica," Dr. Freidel said, referring to the region of southern Mexico, Guatemala, Belize and Honduras where the pre- Columbian Maya culture thrived. "The quality of the execution, the composition itself, the beautifully rendered faces — this is a master at work and a masterpiece of visual art."

Dr. Saturno said that luck and exhaustion entered into the discovery. Arriving at the San Bartolo site exhausted after a three-day journey, he sought shade in a tunnel that looters had dug near an 80-foot pyramid. He turned a flashlight on the dark tunnel wall.

"There was this Maya mural, a very rare thing," he recalled. "The looters had cleared off a section and left it. I felt like the luckiest man on the planet."

The visible part is about six feet long and more than two feet high, but this may be only 10 percent of the total painting. The archaeologists said that traces of the border and other clues suggest that the entire mural wraps around the room. Most of the room, which adjoins the pyramid, is still filled with dirt and rubble.

Joining Dr. Saturno in subsequent studies of the site were Dr. David Stuart, also of Harvard's Peabody Museum, and Dr. Héctor Escobedo of the Universidad del Valle in Guatemala. They determined the approximate date of the mural by comparing its style and content with the only previously known but poorly preserved paintings from the Pre- Classic period, those from the much grander Guatemalan site of Tikal.

In the painting, at least nine people are standing or kneeling in a scene surrounded by geometric designs. The dominant figure is a man standing and looking back over his shoulder at two kneeling women.

Dr. Karl Taube, a scholar of iconography at the University of California at Riverside, said the scene may depict an important ritual in Maya mythology, the "dressing of the maize god."

Dr. Freidel, a co-author of "Maya Cosmos: Three Thousand Years on the Shaman's Path" (Morrow, 1993), said that it was more likely that the figure was not meant to be the maize god himself, but a ruler who is impersonating the god in a ceremony of regeneration associated with the season of planting and the season of nourishing rain.

"The mural tells me that in the Pre-classic period, even before advanced writing, we see the king performing the kind of creation stories as we see later in the Classic period," Dr. Freidel said.

But Dr. Stuart cautioned, "The painting is so early that we are not quite sure how to look at it."


TOPICS: Culture/Society
KEYWORDS: archaeologists; archaeology; ggg; godsgravesglyphs; guatemala; history; historylist; latinamericalist; mayan; mayans; precolumbian
Let me see, humans came 'out of Asia' and next, 'civilization first appeared in the Americas?' (Neither would suprise me.)
1 posted on 03/14/2002 4:42:29 PM PST by blam
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To: Map Kernow;RightWhale;farmfriend
FYI.
2 posted on 03/14/2002 4:43:59 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
Come on, everybody knows humans were planted here by an alien race 50,000 years ago!
3 posted on 03/14/2002 4:44:35 PM PST by billybudd
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Comment #4 Removed by Moderator

Comment #5 Removed by Moderator

To: billybudd
"Come on, everybody knows humans were planted here by an alien race 50,000 years ago!"

Show me the data!

6 posted on 03/14/2002 5:01:15 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
Thanks and bttt.
7 posted on 03/14/2002 5:06:33 PM PST by farmfriend
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To: blam
Let me see, humans came 'out of Asia' and next, 'civilization first appeared in the Americas?' (Neither would suprise me.)

Who ever said humans came "out of Asia", OR that "civilization first appeared in the Americas"? I'm confused.

8 posted on 03/14/2002 5:09:17 PM PST by dagny taggert
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To: dagny taggert
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9 posted on 03/14/2002 5:11:14 PM PST by Bob J
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To: dagny taggert
Asia The Home Of Primate Ancestors
10 posted on 03/14/2002 5:49:07 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
Lookin' at the pic, all I can say is, "Baby got back".
11 posted on 03/14/2002 6:05:15 PM PST by TomServo
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To: blam
Thanks, I missed that. How about the "civilization first appeared in the Americas"?
12 posted on 03/14/2002 6:06:12 PM PST by dagny taggert
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To: blam
"A wall painting found at San Bartolo is about 1,900 years old."

I think it was painted last week on a 1,900 year old wall using 1,900 year old paint by a rogue bunch of liberal archeologists who need to publish.

13 posted on 03/14/2002 6:14:26 PM PST by Consort
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To: Jimer

14 posted on 03/14/2002 6:15:12 PM PST by Consort
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To: blam
Fragment has a Minoan look to it.
15 posted on 03/14/2002 6:23:53 PM PST by LarryLied
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To: Jimer
"A wall painting found at San Bartolo is about 1,900 years old." I think it was painted last week on a 1,900 year old wall using 1,900 year old paint by a rogue bunch of liberal archeologists who need to publish.
Ah, wit. How well I remember. How do you know they're liberal? Because they've got degrees?
16 posted on 03/14/2002 6:26:16 PM PST by GCSmith
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To: blam
Archeology fascinates me.
17 posted on 03/14/2002 6:26:48 PM PST by rintense
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To: dagny taggert
"How about the "civilization first appeared in the Americas"?"

Okay. Go to post #4 on this thread, click on 'Gods, Graves, Glyphs', Then scroll down to the thread titled, "Calico: A 200,00-Year Old Site In The Americas?"

18 posted on 03/14/2002 6:26:48 PM PST by blam
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To: seamole
thanks for the Bump List Folders...You are a gem!
19 posted on 03/14/2002 6:28:50 PM PST by ruoflaw
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To: blam
Thanks blam...it doesn't get any better than this!
20 posted on 03/14/2002 6:31:09 PM PST by ruoflaw
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To: LarryLied
"Fragment has a Minoan look to it."

Yes, maybe. Remember that the woman who claims to have found the underwater city off the coast of Cuba claims also to have seen 'writing' down there that looks Minoan.. Hmmmm

21 posted on 03/14/2002 6:31:45 PM PST by blam
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To: rintense
"Archaeology fascinates me."

Me too but I like anthropology even better.

22 posted on 03/14/2002 6:33:59 PM PST by blam
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To: LarryLied
good catch...I think you are right
23 posted on 03/14/2002 6:34:25 PM PST by ruoflaw
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To: GCSmith
"How do you know they're liberal? Because they've got degrees?"

Because they like to change history by degrees.

24 posted on 03/14/2002 6:43:15 PM PST by Consort
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To: rintense
me too. I have worked on six digs with an archaeologist and I am ready to dig any time!
25 posted on 03/14/2002 6:47:44 PM PST by ruoflaw
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To: blam
Thank you. I do enjoy these other theories, because that is what science is all about - posit theories that are not commonly accepted, and show that they are either consistent or inconsistent with the data.
26 posted on 03/14/2002 6:49:22 PM PST by dagny taggert
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To: ruoflaw
I am so green with envy! Find any good stuff?
27 posted on 03/14/2002 6:49:29 PM PST by rintense
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To: rintense
Oh yes....but we were digging fort sites from a little over two hundred years ago..finding a soldier's button and holding it in your hand is awesome...we also found a Jesuit ring and a officer's Intaglio ring...with his face carved out of ivory with a blue background..it has his initials... it would have used it for putting his seal on documents.. you melt the red wax and pour it on the envelope to seal it and then he would have stamped his ring in the wax..we found so much that I there isn't room for all of it in the musem. Digging a ancient site would be even better!
28 posted on 03/14/2002 6:58:12 PM PST by ruoflaw
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To: ruoflaw;LarryLied

Sketch of the fresco of the Crocus Gatherers.
From Akrotiri on the island of Thera.

29 posted on 03/14/2002 7:04:27 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
Thank you...it is beautiful. we would have not seen it if it hadn't been for you
30 posted on 03/14/2002 7:08:36 PM PST by ruoflaw
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To: ruoflaw
(From Ananova)

Salvadoran workers uncover '2,000-year-old stone shards'

Workers building a wall around a school have uncovered four carved rocks that an archaeologist says date from the time of Christ's birth.

The pieces found correspond to the late pre-classic period of Meso-American civilization, from 200 years before to 260 years after the birth of Christ, archaeologist Fabricio Valdivieso, of the National Museum, says.

He says researchers still know relatively little about the people living in the area at the time.

Mr Valdivieso says the four pieces, measuring about 25 inches long and 15 inches wide each, were discovered when the workers were digging about 20 inches below ground in Izalco.

Three of the rocks were carved into jaguar heads, while the fourth resembles a sculpture of a human head, he says.

Mr Valdivieso says the four pieces represent "one of the most important archaeological findings" of the past 10 years in El Salvador.

"This finding could help to reconstruct patterns of religious conduct for our ancestors," he said.

He says the type of sculpture indicates the objects had a ceremonial use, "but investigations will help us confirm that theory."

Mr Valdivieso says a group of Salvadoran archaeologists will conduct more research at the site.

Story filed: 00:34 Friday 15th March 2002

31 posted on 03/14/2002 7:21:13 PM PST by blam
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To: blam
It looks like cosmology. The geometrical figures look like constellations. The ancients saw many things in the stars, which they often related to happenings and psychology on earth. The night sky was their main notebook. Too bad we have polluted our night sky with light so we can hardly see the brightest stars. Like in Hong Kong, they say that within 10 years the night sky will be as bright as the day sky.
32 posted on 03/14/2002 7:35:30 PM PST by RightWhale
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To: blam
thanks! Keep up the good work...it always makes my day when you post this wonderful information.
33 posted on 03/14/2002 7:46:41 PM PST by ruoflaw
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To: Utah Girl,CaliforniaOkie,Illbay,Jeff Head,lady lawyer,
CTR
34 posted on 03/14/2002 8:26:53 PM PST by restornu
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To: blam
Are my eyes tried or is the wall moving inclosed or wraped around the corner?
35 posted on 03/14/2002 8:35:34 PM PST by restornu
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To: dagny taggert
"...because that is what science is all about - posit theories that are not commonly accepted, and show that they are either consistent or inconsistent with the data.".................Ah yes, but will you get tenure and research money??? I think not. One must toe the line.
36 posted on 03/14/2002 9:08:56 PM PST by brat
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To: blam
Bump
37 posted on 03/14/2002 9:15:21 PM PST by PRND21
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To: blam
bump
38 posted on 03/14/2002 9:23:44 PM PST by d4now
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To: blam
This is a lovely piece of art.
39 posted on 03/14/2002 9:34:11 PM PST by justshutupandtakeit
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To: justshutupandtakeit
BUMP
40 posted on 03/14/2002 9:44:25 PM PST by nopardons
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To: Utah Girl,CaliforniaOkie,Illbay,Jeff Head,lady lawyer,White Mountain,winstonchurchill
Day 5—Tikal, Guatemala: After breakfast at Chaa Creek, the ancients await next as we travel back in time to the massive ruins of Tikal, Guatemala, once populated by more than 10,000 Mayans. Stroll among magnificently carved palaces, legendary shrines and temples built more than 2,000 years ago. Mayan myths and mysteries will unfold before your eyes through more than 100,000 tools, ornaments and personal objects discovered at this site. Though the Mayans have gone, keep an eye out for the spider monkeys, rare birds and other endangered animals who still make the Tikal Forest their home. After exploring this amazing “city” on your own, we’ll return to Chaa Creek for a relaxing dinner.

TOMB of the JADE JAGUAR, TIKAL, GUATEMALA an informative slide lecture on Maya art, architecture, and archaeology

41 posted on 03/15/2002 5:37:06 AM PST by restornu
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To: blam
Beautiful mural. Only wish we had a larger image.
42 posted on 03/15/2002 9:38:17 AM PST by Map Kernow
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To: blam; callisto; Ernest_at_the_Beach; LostTribe; RightWhale; Rutabega; PoisedWoman; Yeti...
(((ping))))


43 posted on 03/15/2002 9:40:15 AM PST by Sabertooth
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To: Map Kernow
"Beautiful mural. Only wish we had a larger image."

Yup. We'll get one. I just hope it comes before I die of old age. lol.

44 posted on 03/15/2002 10:50:00 AM PST by blam
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