Archaeologists have announced the discovery of a lost temple in the remote jungles of Guatemala. The 1600-year-old structure, which is part of a larger complex, is believed to have been located at the seat of power for El Zotz, a small but industrious kingdom in the Maya Empire.
According to National Geographic, the building was known as the Temple of the Night Sun and it was designed to leave a lasting impression, particularly on the nearby rival kingdom of Tikal. The temple’s outer walls feature 5-foot tall, intricately carved masks that represent the various visages of the sun god as he moves across the sky throughout the day. The faces include those of a shark, an ancient being that drinks blood and local jungle jaguars. If that wasn’t impressive enough, the faces were painted bright red so that they would stand out even from a great distance.
The temple, which is only 30 percent excavated so far, sits at the heart of a Maya city. Near by archaeologists also found a 45-foot tall Diablo Pyramid, a royal palace and what is believed to be the tomb of the city’s first ruler. As they continue the process of unearthing the site, they believe they’ll uncover other clues about how the inhabitants of El Zotz lived and why they decided to suddenly abandon the site sometime in the fifth century.
The video below gives an indication of the importance of this find and shares images from the temple itself.
[Photo credit: Edwin Romain, Brown University]