Two massive carved stucco panels, discovered in Guatemala, are the earliest known respresentations of the Mayan creation myth.
According to the researchers, the panels—26 feet long and 20 feet high, with images of monsters, gods, and swimming heroes—date to 300 B.C. They formed the sides of a channel that carried rainwater into a complex system of stepped pools, where it was stored for drinking and agriculture.
Idaho State University archaeologist Richard Hansen, who is directing the ongoing excavation, says that the panels’ carved images depict an important scene from the Popol Vuh, a text of the Mayan myth that was first recorded in the 16th century. In the part of the story shown, the Hero Twins swim through the underworld after retrieving the head of their father, the deity Hun Hunahpu.