New Maya Temple Discovered At El Zotz In Peten Guatemala

By Editorial Staff

Last updated on January 25th, 2023 at 03:27 pm

Archaeologist Edwin Roman with giant mask at at El Zotz Maya Temple discovered in The Peten, Guatemala. Image Credit Prensa Libre.

A report in today’s issue of Prensa Libre newspaper says that the temple was discovered by  archaeologists Stephen Houston (USA), Thomas Garrison (USA) and Edwin Roman (GUA) at the archaeological site El Zotz (BAT), 23 km from the center of Tikal, and belongs to the substructure of the Devil’s Pyramid.

It is called the Temple of the Nocturnal Sun and according to Roman, “was created with the intention to see and be seen”. It dates back to the early Classic Maya Period, approximately  A.D. 350-400.

The structure stands out because “it announces its presence when the Sun rises in the East and hides on the horizon, as representing a dance with the Sun”. At the rear of the temple is the tomb of the ruler and founder of the first dynasty: Pa’Chan, being a daily reminder of an eternal revival Temple.

The iconography of the temple suggests a “glorification in the Sun” and at the top of the entrance to the temple is a frieze representing three different phases of the Sun.

Monumental figureheads of stucco 1.50 meters high were found on the facades of the temple. The masks are in mid-relief (mezzo-rilievo) – three-dimensional which is not often seen in the Maya world. Experts say that “the temple has a total of 14 giant figurehead masks at the height of the frieze, but only eight have been documented” and say “it is necessary to continue exploring and investigating because only know 75 percent of the structure is currently known”.

The masks depict the face of the Maya Sun God changing as he traverses the sky. One mask resembles a shark, possibly a reference to the sun arising from the Caribbean sea in the east. The noon day sun is depicted as an ancient being with crossed eyes that drinks blood, while the evening suns resemble jaguars that awake from their daily slumbers to hunt the nocturnal jungle. From paint traces found, archaeologists say the masks were painted crimson, making for a breath-taking spectacle in the early morning and at dusk.

Unlike the highly centralized Aztec and Inca civilizations, the Maya empire that spanned much of what is now southern Mexico, Belize, Guatemala and northern Honduras, was a liberal federation of city-states.