29 February 2024 The Future is the Product of the Past

Young Maya Maize God’s Severed Head found in Palenque

Archaeologists from the Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH), an approximately 1,300-year-old sculpture of the head of the Young Maya maize god has been uncovered at the Palenque archaeological site in the southern state of Chiapas.

Experts with the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) found the effigy of the young god last year but the discovery wasn’t reported until this week.

Palenque (or Lakamha in the Itza language) was a Mayan city-state in southern Mexico that lasted until the 8th century CE. It was located near the Usumacinta River. The ruins there are thought to date from 226 BCE to 799 CE. The old city’s mostly known for having some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb, and bas-relief carvings from the Maya world.

While removing debris from a corridor connecting House B and House F in the palace complex, archaeologists found it inside a container with its head in a small pond.

The artifact was exposed to humidity and is now undergoing a slow drying process, after which it will be restored by specialists.

According to the experts, this environment was created to resemble the gateway to the Maya underworld. The Mayans believed that the universe was split into three parts: heaven, earth, and the underworld, with sacred locations like caves and cenotes serving as portals to Xibalba, a subterranean realm controlled by the Maya death gods and their assistants.

INAH researcher Arnoldo González Cruz said: “The discovery allows us to further understand how the ancient Maya of Palenque relived the mythical passage about the birth, death, and resurrection of the maize deity.”

The severed head sculpture would have been placed by the Maya on a tripod. The plaster head is approximately 45 cm long, 16 cm wide, and 22 cm high would have been positioned in an east-west orientation, making it so that the statue would face the sun as it rose. Its positioning was meant to allude to the sun’s role in growing corn plants.

The sculpture has exquisite features: the chin is sharp, prominent, and discrete; the lips are thin and protrude from the inside out—the lower lip slightly down—and the middle incisors are visible. Eyes appear long and narrow, while cheekbones are thin and rounded. The forehead is broad, long, and straight, with a rectangular nose emerging, the dorsum nasi broad and prominent.

By considering the type of plate that accompanied the head of the Young and “Tonsured” Maize God –an adjective that recalls the god’s haircut, which emulates ripe maize–, the piece was dated into the Late Classical Period (700-850 CE).

The discovery was registered during the 2021 season of a project entitled “Architectural Conservation and Decorative Features of El Palacio”, supported by the Ambassadors Fund for Cultural Preservation, run by the U. S. Department of State’s Bureau of Educational and Cultural Affairs.

INAH

Related Articles

Thousands of ignored ‘Nummi Minimi’ Coins Found in the Ancient City of Marea in Egypt

11 December 2023

11 December 2023

Numismatists from the Faculty of Archaeology at the University of Warsaw have examined thousands of previously ignored small coins (Nummi...

World-first recreation of ancient Egyptian garden open

20 May 2022

20 May 2022

Have you ever wondered what an ancient Egyptian garden was like?  This is your opportunity to find out! The first...

8,200-year-old lacquerware found in China

9 July 2021

9 July 2021

Archaeologists in eastern China’s Zhejiang Province have identified two items of lacquerware at the Jingtoushan ruins, the oldest ever found...

The largest stone coffin grave found so far at the Yoshinogari Ruins -3.2 meters

30 May 2023

30 May 2023

A grave with a stone coffin around 2.3 meters long and dating to the latter part of the Yayoi Period...

Archaeologists Found Seal Impressions That Could Change Hittite History in Kayalıpınar

15 September 2023

15 September 2023

A seal impression belonging to Hattusili III was found during the excavations carried out near the village of Kayalıpınar in...

Tens of Thousands of Ancient Bronze Coins Dating from the 4th Century Discovered Off Sardinia

4 November 2023

4 November 2023

A diver spotted something metallic at the bottom of the sea off the town of Arzachena in the Sassari province...

14,000-year-old settlement discovered in western Turkey

26 November 2021

26 November 2021

During the rescue excavation carried out in a cave in Dikili, İzmir, in western Turkey, 14 thousand-year-old stone tools and...

New research, prove that Romans were breeding small bulldogs

11 June 2023

11 June 2023

Researchers have proven that breeding small brachycephalic (shorter-nosed) dogs took place already in ancient Rome. Research on a 2,000 years...

A cave painting found in Egyptian Sahara depicts a nativity scene 3,000 years before Jesus’ Birth

21 December 2023

21 December 2023

5,000-year-old rock art depicting the oldest nativity scene ever found has been found in Egypt’s Sahara Desert: A newborn between...

Vindolanda marks the 1900th anniversary of Hadrian’s Wall with an altar discovery

9 February 2022

9 February 2022

The excavation season hasn’t started yet, but the Vindolanda Roman fort has kicked off Hadrian’s Wall’s 1900th anniversary year with...

A large hall from the time of Viking Harald Bluetooth discovered

26 December 2022

26 December 2022

A large hall from the reign of King Harald Bluetooth of Denmark and Norway was unearthed during housing construction work...

A coin of Queen Fastrada and Charlemagne found – First of its kind

8 May 2023

8 May 2023

A coin purchased by the Charlemagne Center in Aachen, Germany, bears the name of Queen Fastrada. This is the first...

Bronze Age artifacts discovered near the residence of ‘Iran’s Napoleon’

6 July 2021

6 July 2021

Archaeologists in Iran have discovered a plethora of artifacts and damaged structures near a former residence of Nader Shah, dubbed...

In Lviv, Ukraine, a secret room where Jews were hiding in city sewers during the Nazi Holocaust has been unearthed

7 November 2021

7 November 2021

In the western Ukrainian city of Lviv, diggers have uncovered new hiding spots in underground sewers where some Jews managed...

12,000-Year-Old rock art may depict extinct giants of the ice age

13 March 2022

13 March 2022

South America was filled with ice age animals more than 12,000 years ago, including car-sized ground sloths, elephantine herbivores, and...