Thanks to 3-Dimensional mapping, the ancient city of Holtun, or Head of Stone, has been uncovered by scientists under the growth of the Guatemalan rain forest. The 3-D mapping essentially “erased” the jungle growth surrounding the area and revealed the rough contour of over a hundred buildings and what it looks like underneath. (image courtesy news.nationalgeographic.com.- Photo is of Archeologist Brigitte Kovacevich by a looter’s tunnel inside the pyramid at Head of Stone – photograph by Michel Callaghan)
Scientists plotted the locations and elevations of a 7-story pyramid, an astronomical observatory, a ritual ball court, several stone residences, and hundreds of other structures. Truly amazing and a significant find for archaeology. The ancient city was built somewhere from 600 B.C to 900 A.D.
A quote from the article:
Some of the stone houses, said study leader Brigitte Kovacevich, may have doubled as burial chambers for the city’s early kings.
“Oftentimes archaeologists are looking at the biggest pyramids or temples to find the tombs of early kings, but during this Late-Middle Preclassic period”—roughly 600 B.C. to 300 B.C.—”the king is not the center of the universe yet, so he’s probably still being buried in the household,” said Kovacevich, an archaeologist at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
“That may be why so many Preclassic kings have been missed” by archaeologists, who expected to find the rulers’ burials at grand temples, she added.
The findings at Head of Stone—named for giant masks found at the site—could shed light on how “secondary” Maya centers were organized and what daily life was like for Maya living outside of the larger metropolitan areas such as Tikal, about 22 miles (35 kilometers) to the north, according to Kathryn Reese-Taylor, a Preclassic Maya specialist at Canada’s University of Calgary.
Head of Stone, which has never been excavated, “was not a New York or Los Angeles, but it was definitely a Denver or Atlanta,” said Reese-Taylor, who called the new mapping study “incredibly significant.”
The city is about 3/4 mile long and 1/3 mile wide, which may have been home to around 2,000 permanent residents of the city.
The pyramid was discovered by scientists in the 1990’s while following looters who had already discovered the site. Beautiful, large stone masks, up to 10 feet tall, are found at the site and once adorned many of the buildings in the city, which is what the looters were stealing. The city was named ‘Head of Stone’ after the large masks that were found there.
Scientists already are planning excavating this summer of some of the residences and the observatory. Ground penetrating radar will be used to bring the ancient city to a more sharper focus and more detail of exactly what it looked like back in its days. So more news will be forthcoming I’m sure as the excavating progresses.
A fantastic find. Maybe more can be learned about the daily life of the Mayan people. I predict that this may one day be added to the tourist attractions of the Mayan sites.
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Source> National Geographic