Holmul, Guatemala:

 

Ein zu 95% erhalten gebliebener, riesiger Stuck-Fries von 8 Metern

Breite und 2 Metern Höhe wird freigelegt. Er zeigt als Hauptmotiv

vermutlich einen Herrscher und einen Berggeist.

 


 

derStandard.de, 8. August 2013

 

Acht Meter lange und zwei Meter hohe

Steinmetzarbeit in 1.500 Jahre alter

Pyramide freigelegt

 

Guatemala-Stadt - "Das ist außergewöhnlich, das gibt es nur einmal im Leben eines Archäologen", meint Francisco Estrada-Belli. Der Historiker ist begeistert über einen aufsehenerregenden Fund, den er und sein Team aus Boston vor wenigen Wochen im Norden Guatemalas nahe der Grenze zu Belize gemacht haben. Die Forschergruppe hat im Juli in der Maya-Ruinenstadt Holmul im Department Petén Ausgrabungen unter den 20 Meter hoch aufgetürmten Resten eines jüngeren Gebäudes durchgeführt. In einem Gang, den vermutlich Plünderer hinterlassen haben, stießen die Archäologen auf eine bisher unbekannte Pyramide. Geschmückt ist das Bauwerk mit einem spektakulären Steinfries.

 

 

Das acht Meter lange Relief bildete die Außenseite eines Gebäudes, das noch zum Großteil unter dem Schutt einer jüngeren Struktur verborgen ist (Quelle: AP/Proyecto Arqueologico Holmul, Francisco Estrada-Belli).

 

Wie Estrada-Belli am Mittwoch bei der Präsentation der Entdeckung berichtet, dürfte das Relief rund 1.500 Jahre alt sein. Es befinde sich in einem einmalig guten Zustand, meint der Forscher. Rund 95 Prozent des Bildnisses seien erhalten geblieben. Die acht Meter lange und zwei Meter hohe Steinmetzarbeit zeigt Reste einer früheren Bemalung. Die Wissenschafter fanden rote, blaue, grüne und gelbe Farbreste. Zu sehen sind mehrere Personen und mythologische Wesen. Darunter verläuft eine Bordüre aus 30 Schriftzeichen, aus der hervorgeht, dass das Bauwerk durch den Herrscher von Naranjo, einem weiter südlich gelegenen Königreich, in Auftrag gegeben worden war.

Im Detail zeigt das Relief drei menschliche Figuren mit aufwendigen Federkopfbedeckungen und Jade-Schmuck, die mit überkreuzten Beinen über dem Kopf eines Berggeistes sitzen. Jedes Individuum trägt eine Namenskartusche auf dem Kopf, zu entziffern war aber nur die der zentralen Figur: Och Chan Yopaat, was etwa so viel bedeutet wie "der Sturmgott steigt in den Himmel auf". Zwei gefiederte Schlangen treten aus den Berggeistern unter der Hauptfigur in der Mitte hervor und bilden mit ihren Körpern einen Bogen. Darunter zeigt das Relief zwei alte Gottheiten, die ein Schild mit Schriftzeichen tragen. Vor den Mäulern der Schlangen sitzen zwei weitere Figuren.

 

 

Die Archäologen fanden die Reste einer früheren Bemalung auf dem Steinrelief (Quelle: APA/EPA/Homul Archaelogical Project).

 

 

Foto aus einem anderen Bericht

 

Andere Inschriften geben wertvolle Informationen zu den lokalen politischen Verhältnissen und legen nahe, dass der Einfluss Holmuls zeitweise größer war, als bisher angenommen wurde. Die Schriftzeichen berichten von zahlreichen Allianzen, die bis nach Teotihuacán im heutigen Mexiko reichten. Dadurch konnte Holmul sogar das mächtige Maya-Königreich Tikal im Süden in Bedrängnis bringen. Aus den dargestellten Ereignissen konnten die Forscher schließen, dass das Gebäude in den 590er Jahren errichtet wurde.

 

 

Die Inschriften (hier mit roten Farbresten) verraten Details zu den politischen Verhältnissen der Maya-Stätte Holmul um das Jahr 600 (Quelle: AP/Proyecto Arqueologico Holmul, Francisco Estrada-Belli).

 

http://derstandard.at/1375625994048/Riesiges-Maya-Relief-in-Guatemala-entdeckt

 


 

National Geographic, Daily News, 7. August 2013

Article by Ker Than

 

Big Discovery

 

Archaeologist Anya Shetler cleans an inscription below an ancient stucco frieze recently unearthed in the buried Maya city of Holmul in the Peten region of Guatemala. Sunlight from a tunnel entrance highlights the carved legs of a ruler sitting atop the head of a Maya mountain spirit.

 

 

Photograph courtesy Francisco Estrada-Belli

 

The enormous frieze—which measures 26 feet by nearly 7 feet (8 meters by 2 meters)—depicts human figures in a mythological setting, suggesting these may be deified rulers. It was discovered in July in the buried foundations of a rectangular pyramid in Holmul.

Maya archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli and his team were excavating a tunnel left open by looters when they happened upon the frieze. "The looters had come close to it, but they hadn't seen it," Estrada-Belli said.

According to Estrada-Belli, the frieze is one of the best preserved examples of its kind. "It's 95 percent preserved. There's only one corner that's not well preserved because it's too close to the surface, but the rest of it isn't missing any parts," said Estrada-Belli, who is affiliated with Tulane University, Boston University, and the American Museum of Natural History and who is also a National Geographic Explorer. His excavations at Holmul were supported by the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program.

Maya archaeologist Marcello Canuto agreed, calling the frieze "amazingly and beautifully preserved."

"We often dream of finding things this well preserved, and Francisco did it," said Canuto, who is the director of the Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University in New Orleans; he was not involved in the project.

For example, despite being mostly faded away now, traces of red, blue, green, and yellow paint are still visible on the frieze.

"It gives you an idea of how intricate and ornate these sites that we are excavating must have been during their apogee," Canuto said. "These sites must have been a feast for the eyes when they were inhabited."

David Stuart, a Maya hieroglyph expert at the University of Texas at Austin, pointed out that archaeologists think most large Maya temples were probably decorated with similar sorts of designs.

"But not all temples were so carefully buried and preserved like this," said Stuart, who did not participate in the project. "Also, each temple facade was slightly different and therefore unique in terms of its detail and message." (Explore an interactive map of key Maya sites.)

 

Caught Between Two Great Powers

The section of the temple at Holmul where the frieze was found dates back to about 590 A.D., which corresponds to the Maya classical era, a period defined by the power struggles between two major Maya dynasties: Tikal and Kaanul.

The two kingdoms competed with one another for resources and for control of other, smaller Maya city-states. Until now, however, it had been unclear which dynasty Holmul owed its allegiance to, but an inscription on the newly discovered frieze reveals that the temple was commissioned by Ajwosaj, ruler of a neighboring city-state called Naranjo, which archaeologists know from other discoveries was a vassal city of the Kaanul kingdom.

"We now know that Holmul was under the influence of the Kaanul dynasty," Canuto said.

In 2012, Canuto's team found and deciphered a series of hieroglyphically inscribed panels at another Maya city of a similar size to Holmul, called La Corona, which was also under the patronage of the Kaanul kingdom.

Recent discoveries at sites like La Corona and Holmul are helping reveal how these sites, despite being relatively small compared with some of their neighbors, were important players on the region's larger geopolitical stage.

"We're now beginning to appreciate how all these hierarchical levels of sites were involved in a larger political game that put them on [the side of either Tikal or Kaanul]," Canuto explained. (See "Why the Maya Fell.")

 

All About Location

Why was Holmul—a minor city that was home to only 10,000 to 20,000 people—so important to the Tikal and Kaanul dynasties?

Previous work by Estrada-Belli suggests Holmul occupied a strategic position for both kingdoms. The city lay along the best east-west route between the Tikal dynasty's capital city, also called Tikal, and the coast. It also lay along a north-south route between the Kaanul capital city of Dzibanche and the Guatemalan highlands that did not pass through Tikal territory.

The Guatemalan highlands contained precious resources such as basalt, obsidian, and jade that were coveted by both kingdoms.

"A [Maya] king without jade was no king at all," Canuto said.

By controlling Holmul in the east and La Corona in the west, the Kaanul dynasty was able to effectively access these riches without going through the capital city of its rival.

 

Staying Put for Now

The frieze still lies buried in Holmul where it was initially discovered because it is too big to move, said lead archaeologist Estrada-Belli.

"We're going to try to preserve it and create a stable environment around it so people can eventually visit it," he said.

"We're very concerned about its present condition, so we had to re-bury the entrance tunnel to keep the humidity and climate around it stable."

 

Photograph courtesy Francisco Estrada-Belli

 

Sacred Offering

An ancestral deity holds a sign in both hands that reads naaah waaj, or "first tamale"—a reference to a sacred food offering—in this view of the south side of the frieze.

Visible behind him is the head of a large feathered serpent. Scrolls on the body of the serpent identify it as a sacred spirit emanating from the mouth of the mountain, the birthplace of the ancestral figures of the Homul dynasty, Estrada-Belli explained.

 

Photograph courtesy Alexandre Tokovinine, CMHI/Harvard/Proyecto Aqueologico Holmul

 

Local King?

This photo mosaic of the recently unearthed Maya frieze in the city of Holmul was digitally stitched together from hundreds of high-resolution photos by team member Alexandre Tokovinine, a Maya epigrapher at Harvard University.

The frieze depicts three human figures wearing elaborate bird headdresses and jade jewelry. They are seated cross-legged over the head of a Maya mountain spirit. A cartouche on their headdresses identifies each of them by name. The central figure's name is the only readable one: Och Chan Yopaat, meaning "the storm god enters the sky."

Estrada-Belli and his team speculate that Och Chan Yopaat may have been the leader that the Naranjo king, Ajwosaj, established as the ruler of Holmul after wresting the city back from the Tikal dynasty.

Stuart, of the University of Texas, said he agreed with this interpretation. "This frieze features a ruler we've never seen before in the historical records," he said. "He's the one portrayed in the center, and it's reasonable to guess he was a local ruler of Holmul, and an ally with the more powerful kingdom of Naranjo to the south, which in turn had its political connections to the [Kaanul kingdom]."

 

 

Photograph courtesy Francisco Estrada-Belli

 

Royal Emblem

This close-up view shows a large hieroglyphic emblem that decorates the side of the building where the Maya frieze was discovered.

The emblem identifies the building as a royal lineage house that was probably dedicated to local rulers who were worshipped in the city as gods, Estrada-Belli explained.

 

 

Photograph courtesy Francisco Estrada-Belli

 

Ritual Inscription

A detail of the section of the inscription that runs along the base of the frieze is shown in this photograph.

The message includes an unusual Maya verb that means "he put in order," followed by the name of an obscure deity that Estrada-Belli and his team speculate was a local patron god associated with the Kaanul dynasty.

"This inscription tells us that there were a number of rituals involved in reestablishing the [Kaanul-affiliated dynasty in Holmul]," Estrada-Belli said.

"The verb 'to put in order' seems to indicate that a number of gods, and especially local patron gods, were reestablished after previously being deposed by [the Tikal] dynasty."

It wasn't uncommon for Maya city-states to "capture" the local gods of those they conquered, explained Tulane University's Canuto.

It was a way of saying, "I hold your patron deity in my hand, so you do what I say."

 

 

Photograph courtesy Jesus Lopez

 

Ancient Burial

Estrada-Belli carefully brushes debris from an adult male skeleton of a member of the ruling class of Holmul. The body was buried in a tomb beneath the steps leading to the building that contained the frieze.

The Maya routinely built newer structures upon the remains of older ones, both as a way to save time—since the foundations were already in place—and to preserve a sense of continuity of purpose, Canuto explained.

"Buildings were places where things happened—where people were buried and rituals were conducted—so they gained a sense of sacredness that was special and had to be preserved," he said. "So subsequent buildings might have been later expressions of those same rituals."

The skeleton and his associated ceramic offering were preserved by large limestone slabs that kept the tomb free of debris. His incisor and canine teeth had been drilled and filled with jade beads. The decayed remains of a wooden mask were found on his chest.

"While we can't be certain of the identity of this individual, the frieze and inscription provide many possible names and a ton of historical information associated with him," Estrada-Belli said.

 


 

Gobierno de Guatemala, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, 7. Aug. 2013

 

HOLMUL: “Un Mundo Celestial

entre Dioses y Ancestros”

 

Perspectiva idealizada del Edificio A y friso de Holmul (F. Estrada-Belli/©Proyecto Arqueológico Holmul).

 

la Civilización más Emblemática de Mesoamérica

Guatemala 7 de agosto de 2013. Se descubre el friso más espectacular hasta ahora visto. Durante el mes de julio 2013, en Holmul, un yacimiento arqueológico maya precolombino, localizado en el noreste de la región del Petén, se dio a luz una pirámide maya del año 600, ricamente decorada con imágenes de dioses y gobernantes y una larga inscripción dedicatoria.

El hallazgo fue realizado por el arqueólogo guatemalteco Francisco Estrada-Belli y su equipo, durante la búsqueda de indicios relativos a una tumba encontrada en la temporada anterior.

Las investigaciones actuales fueron llevadas a cabo con el aval del Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes de Guatemala y financiadas con fondos de la fundación guatemalteca PACUNAM y las fundaciones estadounidenses Alphawood, Maya Archaeology Initiative, National Geographic Society y el aval académico de la Universidad de Boston.

 

Sobre el hallazgo

El entierro contenía los restos de un individuo acompañado por 28 vasijas cerámicas y una máscara de madera, lo cual llevó a pensar que pudo haber sido un gobernante o miembro de la elite de esta ciudad; sin embargo, indicios relativos a su identidad y las circunstancias históricas en las cuales vivió fueron proporcionados por el reciente descubrimiento del friso decorativo en el edificio asociado a la tumba.

El friso o relieve estucado se extiende por 8 metros de largo y 2 metros de alto en la parte superior del edificio rectangular a unos 10 metros arriba de la plaza. La composición incluye tres personajes principales vistiendo ricos atavíos de plumas de quetzal y jade, sentados sobre cabezas de monstruos witz (cerro).

El personaje central se identifica como Och Chan Yopaat por los signos jeroglíficos en su tocado y en el texto debajo de su imagen. Desde la boca del monstruo central se desprenden serpientes emplumadas de las cuales emergen los ancestros y cerros laterales. Entre ellos están las figuras de dos dioses ancianos, otorgándole al personaje central un objeto identificado por un signo jeroglífico como “primer tamal”.

Arriba de los personajes corre una banda de símbolos astrales conocida como ‘banda celestial’ que indica que las figuras representadas se encuentran en el mundo celestial de dioses y ancestros.

Este es un hallazgo extraordinario que solo una vez se da en la vida de un arqueólogo. Es una gran obra de arte que también nos proporciona mucha información sobre la función y significado del edificio, lo cual era el enfoque de nuestra investigación. Teníamos la esperanza de encontrar algunos indicios sobre el porqué de este edificio y de su entierro pero algo así va mas allá de cualquier expectativa, expresó Francisco Estrada-Belli.
El Friso representa la imagen de dioses y gobernantes divinizados y da sus nombres. El texto dedicatorio abre una ventana sobre una fase muy importante en la historia de la época Clásica, comparte el investigador.

La inscripción se compone de unos 30 signos jeroglíficos en una banda que corre en la base de todo el relieve. El texto, de difícil lectura por su antigüedad, fue descifrado por Alex Tokovinine epigrafista de la Universidad de Harvard y colaborador de este proyecto de investigación. Tokovinine afirma que el edificio fue dedicado por Ajwosaj, rey de la vecina ciudad de Naranjo y vasallo del poderoso Reino Kan.

Además, se afirma en la inscripción que Ajwosaj “puso en orden” una serie de dioses locales y un posible gobernante local, llamado Och Chan Yopaat, “el rayo entró al cielo”.

Este texto afirma muy claramente algo que antes solamente podíamos suponer. Se sabía que Holmul en el siglo quinto tuvo relación con Tikal junto a la llegada de guerreros teotihacanos al área maya. Sucesivamente, suponíamos que Holmul había entrado en la esfera de influencia de Naranjo, la cual había sido involucrada en guerras y alianzas en contra de Tikal, encabezadas por el Reino Kan.

Pues ahora este texto, nos cuenta de una forma muy explícita que Naranjo intervino de una forma directa para establecer una dinastía más aliada al Reino Kan en un centro como Holmul, tan cercano a Tikal (35 km) durante la fase inicial de la época de conflictos con Tikal, en el sexto y séptimo siglo de nuestra era.

El equipo de investigación espera regresar al área en los próximos meses para continuar la investigación y preservar este importante edificio como recurso para el turismo, finalizó Estrada-Belli.

 

Sobre Francisco Estrada-Belli

Francisco Estrada-Belli es un arqueólogo guatemalteco, doctor de arqueología de la Universidad de Boston, actualmente afiliado como docente de la Universidad de Tulane y como investigador en la Universidad de Boston y en el Museo Americano de Historia Natural de Nueva York, EEUU.
Desde el año 2000 dirige el Proyecto Arqueológico Holmul que reúne un equipo de profesionales y estudiantes de arqueología y disciplinas afiliadas como la biología, ecología y geología. Es autor de numeras publicaciones científicas sobre la cultura maya y del libro “First Maya Civilization: Ritual and Power before the Classic Period” (Routledge, Londres, 2010).

En 2011 fue nombrado Explorador oficial por la National Geographic Society. Además de sus actividades como investigador y docente académico, el Dr. Estrada-Belli se dedica a preservar y difundir el conocimiento de la cultura maya en el mundo a través de publicaciones multilingüe para niños, a través de la organización sin fines de lucro Maya Archaeology Initiative de la cual es cofundador.

 

 

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