Guatemala‏ unearths depiction of ancient superpowers battle

8th Aug 2013

Guatemala could now boast one of Central America's newest cultural sites - with the discovery of a huge, Mayan-crafted stone carving depicting a battle of sixth-century superpowers.

The giant frieze had been hidden inside a pyramid for centuries before archaeologists found it last month at a dig in the country's north-east Peten region.

The decoration, eight-metres wide (26ft) and two-metres tall (6ft 6ins), was unearthed in a 20-metre high (65ft) pyramid built in the 8th century.

It suggests that the rulers of the region were involved in a political clash of the Central America titans between the kings of Kaanul (the Snake Kingdom) and the kings of Tikal.

Tikal - "The Place of Voices" - retains its prominence today for different reasons, being the leading Guatemalan attraction among holidaymakers on group tours.

It once boasted a vibrant population of over 250,000.

Now all that is left of this ancient metropolis are a number of stunning Mayan ruins surrounded by wildlife such as moneys and macaws.

Francisco Estrada-Belli, director of the Holmul Archaeological Project that made the discovery, called the find "unique".

The carving is largely painted in red and shows human figures in mythological settings, suggesting they may be deified leaders.

The team made the discovery in a tunnel left open by looters.

Archaeologists plan to return to the area next year to continue exploring and to preserve the buildings.

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