Archaeologists with the La Corona Regional Archaeological Project in Guatemala, who in 2012 discovered the second known reference to the so-called “end date” of the Maya calendar, have made more finds consisting of significant hieroglyphic panels. They also unearthed a well-preserved Maya stela that dates to the 5th century AD from the archaeological site of El Achiotal.
Marcello Canuto (left), director of Tulane University’s Middle American Research Institute and co-director of the excavations at El Achiotal with Luke Auld-Thomas, a Tulane anthropology graduate student who discovered the Maya stela dating to the 5th century AD. Image: Tulane University
“This stela portrays an early king during one of the more poorly understood periods of ancient Maya history,” said Marcello A. Canuto, director of Tulane University’s Middle American Research Institute and co-director of the excavations at El Achiotal along with Tomás Barrientos of the Universidad del Valle de Guatemala.
Tulane graduate student Luke Auld-Thomas, with funding from National Geographic Young Explorer’s Grant, uncovered a shrine that contained fragments of the broken stela. The ancient Maya had built the shrine to preserve this stela.
Epigrapher David Stuart of the University of Texas at Austin estimated the stela’s date to be November 22, AD 418, a time of great political upheaval in the central Maya area.
The La Corona team also found two more hieroglyphic panels in nearly pristine state.
“They even have much of the original sparkling red paint preserved,” Canuto said.
Tulane graduate student Maxime Lamoureux St-Hilaire discovered the panels in his excavations of La Corona’s palace. These panels had not been found by looters because they were installed in a small unassuming corner room of the palace. The panel inscriptions tell of rituals of kingly accession.
Tulane graduate student Maxime Lamoureux St-Hilaire discovered the above hieroglyphic panel in near pristine condition during excavations of La Corona’s palace. Image: Tulane University
“The fact that the stela and these panels were preserved by the ancient Maya themselves long after they were first carved adds a new wrinkle to our interpretation of how much the ancient Maya valued and strove to preserve their own history,” Canuto said.