Posted 7 August, 2013 by Ministry of Culture and Sports in News

HOLMUL: "A Heavenly World of Gods and Ancestors"

La arqueóloga Anya Shetler limpiando la insccrición del friso de Holmul en el momento de su descubrimiento (F. Estrada-Belli/©Proyecto Arqueológico Holmul)
La arqueóloga Anya Shetler limpiando la insccrición del friso de Holmul en el momento de su descubrimiento (F. Estrada-Belli/©Proyecto Arqueológico Holmul)
Findings that rewrite the history of the most emblematic of Mesoamerican Civilization

Guatemala 7 August 2013. We discover the most spectacular frieze hitherto seen. During the month of July 2013, one Holmul, an archaeological pre-Columbian Mayan, located in the northeastern region of Peten, gave birth to a Mayan pyramid of the year 600, richly decorated with images of gods and rulers and a long dedicatory inscription.

The discovery was made by Guatemalan archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli and his team, during the search for evidence relating to a tomb in the previous season.

Current investigations were carried out with the support of Ministry of Culture and Sports of Guatemala and funded Guatemalan Foundation and U.S. foundations PACUNAM Alphawood, Maya Archaeology Initiative, National Geographic Society and academic endorsement Boston University.

About the finding

The burial contained the remains of an individual accompanied by 28 ceramic vessels and a wooden mask, which led to think it could have been a governor or member of the elite of this city; however, evidence concerning its identity and the historical circumstances in which he lived were provided by the recent discovery of decorative frieze on the building associated with the tomb.

The stucco frieze or relief spans 8 meters long and 2 meters high in the upper rectangular building about 10 meters above the square. The composition includes three main characters wearing rich ornaments of quetzal feathers and jade, sitting on heads of monsters Witz (hill).

The central character is identified as Yopaat by Och Chan in his headdress hieroglyphs and in the text below your picture. From the mouth of the central monster snakes emerge which emerge feathered ancestors and side hills. These are the figures of two old gods, giving the central character an object identified by a hieroglyphic sign "first tamale".

Top of the characters runs a band of astral symbols known as 'heavenly band' indicating that the figures represented are in the heavenly world of gods and ancestors.

This is an extraordinary finding that occurs only once in the life of an archaeologist. It's a great work of art that also gives us a lot of information on the role and significance of the building, which was the focus of our research. We were hoping to find some clues about why this building and its burial but something goes beyond any expectation, Express Francisco Estrada-Belli.
The frieze depicts the image of gods and godlike rulers and gives their names. The dedicatory text opens a window on a very important phase in the history of the Classical era, shares the researcher.

The inscription is composed of about 30 hieroglyphic signs in a band that runs at the base of the prominence. Text, difficult to read because of its age, was deciphered by Alex Tokovinine epigraphist Harvard University and contributor to this research project. Tokovinine states that the building was dedicated by Ajwosaj, king of the neighboring city of Naranjo and vassal of the powerful United Kan.

Also, stated in the inscription Ajwosaj "tidied up" a number of local gods and a possible local ruler, Amado Och Chan Yopaat, "Ray went to heaven".

This text states very clearly something that previously could only assume. Holmul was known that in the fifth century Tikal was related with the arrival of warriors teotihacanos the Maya area. Successively, Holmul assumed that had entered the sphere of influence of Naranjo, which had been involved in wars and alliances against Tikal, led by the United Kan.

Well now this text, tells us in a very explicit way Naranjo directly intervened to establish a dynasty more allied to the United Kan in a center like Holmul, tan looking at Tikal (35 km) during the initial phase of the time conflicts with Tikal, in the sixth and seventh century AD.

The research team hopes to return to the area in the coming months to continue research and preserve this important building as a resource for tourism, Estrada-Belli finished.

About Francisco Estrada-Belli

Francisco Estrada-Belli are a Guatemalan archaeologist, Doctor of archeology at Boston University, currently enrolled as a professor at Tulane University and a researcher at Boston University and at the American Museum of Natural History in New York, USA.
Since 2000 Holmul directs the Archaeological Project that brings together a team of professionals and students of archeology and affiliated disciplines such as biology, ecology and geology. You number is the author of scientific publications on the Mayan culture and the book "First Maya Civilization: Ritual and Power before the Classic Period” (Routledge, London, 2010).

In 2011 was appointed official Explorer by the National Geographic Society. In addition to his activities as a researcher and academic teacher, Dr.. Estrada-Belli is dedicated to preserving and disseminating the knowledge of the Mayan culture in the world through children's multilingual publications, through the nonprofit organization Maya Archaeology Initiative which is co-founder.

Contact Information:
Francisco Estrada-Belli: email franciscoeb@gmail.com; Cellular: 4478-9968.

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Ministry of Culture and Sports

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