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Valencian archaeologists find Mayan figurehead in Guatemala
By thinkSPAIN Team Mon, Jan 25, 2010
A group of investigators from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia and the Universidad de Valencia working deep in the jungles of Guatemala have found a decorated Mayan figurehead dating back to between 300 and 600 AD.
The figurehead, which has remained buried for centuries under the dense vegetation which covers the archaeological ruins at Chilonché in the northern part of Guatemala, appears to pre-date the other remains at the site by some considerable amount of time.
Gaspar Muñoz Cosme, from the Universidad Politécnica de Valencia, said that the discovery "gives us some very important scientific data which affords us a greater understanding of the architecture of this era and the ancient Mayan people".
The stuccoed figurehead measures some 2.8m by 3m at the base and rises to a height of 1.5m and has been preserved in excellent condition, even conserving some of its original colours. It was found inside one of the numerous tunnels at the site, which have been built by looters who steal artefacts from the ruins to sell on the black market.
As soon as they made the find, the team from Valencia alerted the Guatemalan authorities of its importance to ensure greater security around the site and to try to combat the frequent looting in the area. As specialists in the conservation and restoration of stuccoed artefacts, the team has also made their expertise available to archaeologists in Guatemala.
Gaspar Muñoz described the find as "spectacular" and added that they hoped to find another similar figurehead as these items were usually built symmetrically by the Mayans.
These Mayan ruins are buried deep in the Departament of El Petén, the Guatemala's northenmost region and the area considered by experts to be the heart of the ancient Mayan culture, close to cities like Naranjo, Nakum and the better known Tikal.
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