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LLILAS PhD Student Part of Team That Discovers Ancient Mayan Temple

Posted: September 26, 2012
Edwin Román, Codirector of Proyecto El Zotz

Edwin Román, Codirector of Proyecto El Zotz

The ancient Mayan city of El Zotz in Guatemala continues to yield fascinating treasures. Earlier this year, a team that included Edwin Román, LLILAS PhD student and codirector of the archaeological site, discovered a temple covered in ornately carved stone masks.

Only 30 percent of the Temple of the Midnight Sun has been excavated, but the masks that Román and his colleagues found already have provided important clues about how the Mayans viewed their cosmos, including their sun god, K’inich Ajaw. The masks—measuring five feet high—portray the phases of the sun from sunrise to sunset as it makes its way across the sky, and would have been painted in brilliant hues of yellow and red.

The temple itself, built in AD 350–400, also would have been painted an intense red, visible for miles away as a statement of the power of the El Zotz kings and their direct connection to the divine sun.

Learn more about the Temple of the Midnight Sun in this video interview of Stephen Houston of Brown University, El Zotz codirector with Román. To find out more about Román’s previous discoveries at El Zotz, read LLILAS Student Leads Team to Major Archaeological Discovery in Guatemala.

(Photo courtesy of A. Rubinstein, Archaeological Project, El Zotz, Guatemala)

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