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"Dramatic" New Maya Temple Found, Covered With Giant Faces

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Author Topic: "Dramatic" New Maya Temple Found, Covered With Giant Faces  (Read 172 times)
Deborah Valkenburg
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« on: July 21, 2012, 09:20:45 pm »

Solar Power

The sides of the temple are decorated with 5-foot-tall (1.5-meter-tall) stucco masks showing the face of the sun god changing as he traverses the sky over the course of a day.

(Related: "Unprecedented Maya Mural Found, Contradicts 2012 'Doomsday' Myth.")

One mask is sharklike, likely a reference to the sun rising from the Caribbean in the east, Houston said.

The noonday sun is depicted as an ancient being with crossed eyes who drank blood, and a final series of masks resemble the local jaguars, which awake from their jungle slumbers at dusk.

In Maya culture the sun is closely associated with new beginnings and the sun god with kingship, Houston explained. So the presence of solar visages on a temple next to a royal tomb may signify that the person buried inside was the founder of a dynasty—El Zotz's first king.

It's an example of "how the sun itself would have been grafted onto the identity of kings and the dynasties that would follow them," he said in a press statement.

Maya archaeologist David Freidel added, "Houston's hypothesis is likely correct that the building was dedicated to the sun as a deity closely linked to rulership. The Diablo Pyramid will certainly advance our knowledge of Early Classic Maya religion and ritual practice."

Houston's team also found hints that the Maya, who added new layers to the temple over generations, regarded the building as a living being. For example, the noses and mouths of the masks in older, deeper layers of the temple were systematically disfigured.

"This is actually quite common in Maya culture," Houston told National Geographic News. "It's very hard to find any Mayan depiction of the king that doesn't have its eyes mutilated or its nose hacked ... but 'mutilation' is not the appropriate term to describe it. I see it as more of a deactivation.

"It's as if they're turning the masks off in preparation for replicating them in subsequent layers ... It's not an act of disrespect. It's quite the opposite."

(Also See "End of World in 2012? Maya 'Doomsday' Calendar Explained.")
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