Credit: F. Estrada-Belli

A team of international archaeologists has discovered an impressive Mayan stucco wall sculpture with its color still intact.

It was found in Guatemala just beneath a Mayan pyramid at the ancient Mayan city of Holmul. It was created around the late 6th century.

The stucco frieze is about 30 feet long (9 meters) and 6 feet tall (1,8 meters). It was painted red, with details in blue, yellow and green. Depicting three men wearing bird headdresses and a mountain spirit, possibly the crowning of a new ruler.

This is the first time we get to witness details of the ceremonies by which a new king is installed in the Mayan society according to the archaeologists. An inscription in Homun dedicates the frieze to a king in the nearby “Snake kingdom”, claiming to have restored the city rulers to their rightful place as leaders. Which probably imply that the city was involved in a war between city-states in the region at this point in history. And that it possibly shifted sides during the war.

This theory seems to be confirmed by another inscription in another city also describing an installation of a new king, or queen in this case, by the Snake Kingdom. That inscription was dated to the year 564 CE.

The initial discovery of this newly found sculpture was actually done by looters. But thankfully the partly unearthed stucco wall was not damaged by the looters and archaeologists could later assume the work with a slightly more delicate hand.

The team of archaeologists was supported by a National Geographic Society grant.