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Long-sought Maya City -- Site Q -- found in Guatemala

September 28, 2005
Yale University
A team of scientists including Marcello Canuto, assistant professor of anthropology at Yale, has found incontrovertible proof of Site Q, a long-speculated Mayan city, during a mission to the northwest Peten region of Guatemala.

New Haven, Conn. -- A team of scientists including MarcelloCanuto, professor of anthropology at Yale, has found incontrovertibleproof of Site Q, a long-speculated Maya city, during a mission to thenorthwest Peten region of Guatemala.

The proof—an in-situ panelcarved with over 140 hieroglyphs that fill in a key 30 year chapter inclassic Maya history—was found in a little known ancient royal centercalled La Corona.

Roughly 40 years ago, the antiquities marketwas flooded with many exquisitely carved monuments of apparent Mayanorigin. Many were purchased for private and museum collections despitea lack of provenance. Because of their similar style and shared subjectmatter, it was suggested that they came from some still unknown sitelocated somewhere in the Peten lowlands. This site called Site Q — anabbreviation of the Spanish “ ¿que? ” or “ which? ” —has been thetarget of many expeditions.

The expedition to Guatemala this pastApril was to set up camp for an in-depth study later this year. Ontheir last day in camp, Canuto and his team happened upon what theybelieve to be one of the monuments of Site Q.

“This panel exactlymirrors the style, size, subject matter, and historical chronology ofthe Site Q texts,” said Canuto. “This discovery, therefore, concludesone of the longest and widest hunts for a Maya city in the history ofthe discipline.”

In addition to confirming the existence andlocation of Site Q, the find is one of the longest hieroglyphic textsdiscovered in Guatemala in the last several decades. Canuto also notedthat the two blocks making up the panel appeared to be in theiroriginal location in a temple platform and were in no way damaged orlooted.

“The discovery reinforces the existence of a ‘royalroad,’ a strategic overland route that links the Maya capital to itsvassal kingdoms in the southern lowlands,” said team member DavidFreidel, professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University.“For this reason, the forested enclave of Laguna del Tigre shouldreceive serious consideration as a World Heritage Region.”

Thegroup will be returning to Guatemala to continue the study, which wassupported in part by the National Geographic Society, the El Perú-Waka’Archaeological Project directed by David Freidel and Héctor Escobedo,and the Wildlife Conservation Society.

Other researchers includeda mapping team of Damien Marken and Lia Tsesmeli, and an epigrapherStanley Guenter, all of Southern Methodist University. Logistics forthe expedition were carried out by Roan McNabb of the WildlifeConservation Society, and Salvador Lopez, head of the department ofMonumentos Prehispánicos of the Guatemalan Instituto de Antropologia eHistoria (IDAEH).

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Yale University. "Long-sought Maya City -- Site Q -- found in Guatemala." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 28 September 2005. <>.
Yale University. (2005, September 28). Long-sought Maya City -- Site Q -- found in Guatemala. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 22, 2024 from
Yale University. "Long-sought Maya City -- Site Q -- found in Guatemala." ScienceDaily. (accessed May 22, 2024).

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