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The largest monument of Mayan rock art was found in 1979 on the territory of Guatemala. Three-kilometer cave complex Nah-Tunich was an interregional center of pilgrimage, as indicated by following fi ndings: numerous artifacts of a ritual nature, seven monumental buildings, remains of coal and hearths on the floor of all corridors occurring everywhere. Moreover Nah-Tunich represents the largest collection of wall images in Mesoamerica. According to archaeological data, the cave was in use for a long period: from the late preclassical period (the 3rd century BC) to the late classical period (the 10th century). The collection of rock art of Nah-Tunich contains 94 wall images, including five petroglyphs and numerous black paintings made using coal and soil from the surface of the cave fl oor. The paintings of Nah-Tunich represent calendar dates, several geometric fi gures, hieroglyphic texts and scene compositions with anthropomorphic characters. The paintings include scenes from everyday life (ball game scenes, palace scenes, and feast scenes), mythological and ritual scenes, and scenes of a sexual nature. Only a few rock paintings were documented in the course of the study and archaeological research of the cave complex. However, they were not carried out in a timely manner: in 1989 many images were damaged as a consequence of large-scale acts of vandalism carried out by tourists and casual visitors, with the result that the cave was closed. Because the documentation of rock art was not made immediately upon the opening of the monument, most of the unique collection was lost.


Methods of documentation of rock art, Mesoamerica, Maya, Naj Tunich, archeology.

Sandra A. Khokhriakova

Russian State University for the Humanities, Moscow, Russia

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