Archaeologists excavating the Mayan city of El Mirador in Guatemala’s northern jungle have unconvered two large Mayan panels dating to 300 B.C. They’re representations of the Mayan creation myth, the Popol Vuh.
These panels are the earliest known sculptural depictions of the main characters in the Popol Vuh, the hero twins Hunahpu and Xbalanque.
The newly discovered panels, both 26 feet long and stacked on top of each other, were created around 300 BC and show scenes from the core Mayan mythology, the Popol Vuh.
It took investigators three months to uncover the carvings while excavating El Mirador, the biggest ancient Mayan city in the world, the site’s head researcher, Richard Hansen, said on Wednesday.
On one panel, the twins are depicted surrounded by cosmic monsters and above them is a bird deity with outstretched wings. On the other, there is a Mayan corn god framed by an undulating serpent….
The Popol Vuh as we’ve known up until know is a book, originally written in the Quiché language in the 16th c. A.D., so to find these figures in action more than 1800 years earlier shows the remarkable endurance of the Mayan religion.
Interesting side note: the 500,000 acre site of El Mirador is endangered by looters, drug traffickers and deforestation, so the Guatemalan government is enacting a plan to make a national park out of the area, complete with a silent, propane-powered train to carry tourists to the area that currently can only be accessed by helicopter and a two-day hike through the jungle.