When Maya archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli and his team accidentally found an enormous frieze which measures nearly 26 feet by 7 feet in a tunnel in Guatemala, they realized that they had found one of the best preserved examples of its kind. The looters had come close to it but had not seen it. The frieze which was discovered last month (July 2013) in the buried foundations of a rectangular pyramid in Holmul is so amazingly preserved that only a small corner of it shows any damage. In fact, despite being mostly faded away now, traces of red, blue, green, and yellow paint are still visible on the frieze.
As described in The National Geographic Magazine the section of the temple at Holmul where the frieze was found dates back to about A.D. 590, which corresponds to the Maya classical era, a period defined by the power struggles between two major Maya dynasties: Tikal and Kaanul. The two kingdoms competed with one another for resources and for control of other, smaller Maya city-states. An inscription on the newly discovered frieze reveals that the temple was commissioned by Ajwosaj, ruler of a neighboring city-state called Naranjo, which archaeologists know from other discoveries was a vassal city of the Kaanul kingdom.
The excavations at Holmul were supported by the National Geographic Society/Waitt Grants Program and the findings were reported in the National Geographic magazine.