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Out of the Ordinary

Maya murals found in family kitchen

Jill Treacy

Ancient Maya murals were found in Guatemala family's home.

Ancient Maya murals were discovered in Guatemala family’s home.


Maya murals have revealed themselves on the wall of a Guatemalan family’s kitchen. Lucas Asicona Ramírez discovered the murals five years ago when renovating his kitchen in the village of Chajul. As Ramírez began scraping the wall and plaster fell away, the multi-wall Maya murals emerged. This is the first time in centuries the murals have seen light and scientists are racing to preserve the mural before the light fades the artwork and erases any history it might hold.

The paintings are said to date back to the 16th century after the Spanish conquest of Guatemala and some of the illustrations have text that date back to the 17th and 18th century. Archaeologist Jarosław Źrałka says that while the figures are “typical Maya,” from the waist down they “have Spanish clothes.” The Maya mural paintings are described as “a fairly remarkable thing.” Depictions include figures in procession with both Maya and Spanish clothing, and some are holding what appears to be human hearts. 

“We don’t get a lot of this type of artwork; it’s not commonly preserved in the New World,” says William Saturno, a Boston University archaeologist. “It’d be neat to see who the folks were who painted on the wall and why.”

An explanation for the Maya murals could be in the location and history of the 300-year-old house. The Chajul village was one of the few cities that survived the Spanish conquistadores and a rare holder of Mayan history. Saturno also questions the history of the town and the relevance of that particular house.

“There’s 500 years of history in this town. See whose [house] it was. It’s unlikely to be just Joe Schmo’s house—it’s probably an important person’s house.”

The Ramírez family wants to convert the room into a small museum, according to the National Geographic, but lacks the funds. In the meantime, scientists will continue researching and looking into homes in the area for other possible Maya murals.

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