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Extraordinary Mayan sculpture discovered in Guatemala

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9 August 2013 by Luke McCormick

Archeologists working in a Mayan pyramid in Guatemala have discovered an "extraordinary" stucco sculpture depicting gods and Mayan leaders.

The frieze inside the pre-Columbian site of Holmul shows three figures decorated with quetzal feathers and jade sitting atop the head of a mountain spirit, according to the BBC.

The sculpture, which measures eight metres long by two metres wide and was found below a 20m-high pyramid that was built over in the 8th Century, has been described by site director Francisco Estrada-Belli as a once-in-a-lifetime find.

"The preservation is wonderful because it was very carefully packed with dirt before they started building over it," Mr Estrada-Belli said.

The sculpture bears an inscription made up of 30 glyphs and is believed to represent the crowning of a new Mayan leader in AD590.

Archaeologists say it was commissioned by the ruler of the nearby city-state of Ajwosaj ChanK'inich and sheds light on a classical period of Maya rule when two rival kingdoms, Tikal and the Snake Lords, fought for control of the region.

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