Beneath the Guatemalan rainforests, hidden from mankind for more than a millennium, lie remains of the once vast kingdom of the Maya.
A pair of scientists from The University of Alabama in Huntsville will be in Guatemala next week to test whether a camera carried aloft by a tiny, battery-powered helicopter might one day help uncover lost Maya ruins.
Dr. Robert Griffin, an assistant professor of Earth system science at UAH, and graduate student Casey Calamaio will spend three days testing a multi-spectral camera during brief flights of a radio-controlled helicopter over Maya ruins at Tikal and Yaxha. They will use the images - similar to those from Landsat but in much higher resolution - to look for signs of the types of plant stress frequently seen in trees growing over archaeological sites in Central America. Read more.
The Guatemalan government announced the repatriation from the United States of a Mayan panel dating from the classic period, 250-900.
The limestone piece, which stands roughly 50 centimeters (19.6 inches) tall, was taken from the La Corona site in the northern province of Peten, an area seen as the cradle of the ancient Maya civilization.
Guatemala learned in 2001 that the panel was part of a private collection in San Francisco, the country’s deputy minister for Cultural and Natural Heritage, Rosa Maria Chan, told Efe. Read more.
El Pilar. The name means “watering basin”, reflecting its rich water resources. Spread across the border between western Belize and northeastern Guatemala, this ancient Maya city center is considered the largest site in the Belize River region, boasting over 25 known plazas and hundreds of other structures, covering an area of about 120 acres. Monumental construction at El Pilar began in the Middle Preclassic period, around 800 BCE, and at its height centuries later it harbored more than 20,000 people.
It thus may come as a surprise for many visitors when they actually see the site. Its immensity belies the view — for this city, unlike many of its well-known counterparts in Belize and Guatemala — sites like Tikal and Caracol — remains mostly cloaked in its dense tropical shroud. Read more.
Archaeologist Anya Shetler cleans an inscription below an ancient stucco frieze recently unearthed in the buried Maya city of Holmul in the Peten region of Guatemala. Sunlight from a tunnel entrance highlights the carved legs of a ruler sitting atop the head of a Maya mountain spirit.
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. Read more.
Archaeologist tunneling beneath the main temple of the ancient Maya city of El Perú-Waka’ in northern Guatemala have discovered an intricately carved stone monument with hieroglyphic text detailing the exploits of a little-known sixth-century princess whose progeny prevailed in a bloody, back-and-forth struggle between two of the civilization’s most powerful royal dynasties, Guatemalan cultural officials announced July 16.
"Great rulers took pleasure in describing adversity as a prelude to ultimate success," said research director David Freidel, PhD, a professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis. "Here the Snake queen, Lady Ikoom, prevailed in the end."
Freidel, who is studying in Paris this summer, said the stone monument, known officially as El Perú Stela 44, offers a wealth of new information about a “dark period” in Maya history, including the names of two previously unknown Maya rulers and the political realities that shaped their legacies. Read more.
BYU researchers have dug up new evidence from an ancient Maya city that may help solve the mystery of just how many people lived in the civilization.
Using soil chemistry, combined with advanced remote sensing and satellite imagery, the researchers have pinpointed for the first time where Maya farmers in Tikal, Guatemala, carried out some of their most significant crop production.
The location of the prime farmland indicates that the Maya population at Tikal may have been much different than previously thought.
"Our soil analysis is finding that Mayas did not grow maize heavily on the hillsides, but rather along the borders of the low-lying wetlands called bajos," Read more.
GUATEMALA CITY – Fauna that was prevalent at the height of the ancestral Mayan culture has survived prolonged droughts, hurricanes and the deleterious effects of climate change on biodiversity in the areas where the cities of that millennial culture stood, experts say.
That is one of the conclusions of expert Alejandro Morales of Guatemala’s Center for Wildlife Rescue, or Arcas, in his presentation on the first day of the 4th World Convention on Mayan Archaeology, which began Friday in the Guatemalan capital.
“Millennial Cities in the Mayan jungles, Urbanism and Environment” is the central theme of the three-day event, at which experts from several countries will present their respective studies on the subject. Read more.
GUATEMALA CITY - Tourists flocking to Guatemala for “end of the world” parties have damaged an ancient stone temple at Tikal, the largest archaeological site and urban centre of the Mayan civilization.
"Sadly, many tourists climbed Temple II and caused damage," said Osvaldo Gomez, a technical adviser at the site, which is located some 550 kilometres north of Guatemala City.
"We are fine with the celebration, but (the tourists) should be more aware because this is a (UNESCO) World Heritage Site," he told local media. Gomez did not specify what was done, although he did say it was forbidden to climb the stairs at the site and indicated that the damage was irreparable. Read more.