New Maya temple discovered in Guatemala
Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered a new Maya pyramid and temple - one of the most important discoveries relating to this ancient civilisation in decades.
Part of the Maya archaeological site at El Zotz, the structure comprises an ornately decorated pyramid topped by a temple covered in a series of masks depicting different phases of the sun, leading experts to believe the place of worship is dedicated to the Maya sun god.
A team led by led by Stephen Houston of Brown University in the US team began uncovering the temple, called the Temple of the Night Sun, in 2009.
It is believed the structure dates back to about 350 to 400 AD and the temple sits just behind the previously discovered royal tomb atop the Diablo Pyramid.
The team suspects the temple was likely built after the tomb to venerate the leader buried there.
"The Diablo Pyramid is one of the most ambitiously decorated buildings in ancient America" said Mr Houston.
"The stuccos provide unprecedented insight into how the Maya conceived of the heavens, how they thought of the sun, and how the sun itself would have been grafted onto the identity of kings and the dynasties that would follow them."
Maya ruins like the ones at El Zotz can be seen throughout Central America and seeing these impressive ancient structures is one of the highlights of an overland adventure in the region.
Guatemala itself is home to one of the most impressive Maya archaeological sites in the form of Tikal, located not far from this latest discovery.
Tikal was one of the largest urban centres of the pre-Columbian Maya civilisation and reached its height of influence from 200 to 900 AD.
One of the most awe-inspiring sights at Tikal are the six large pyramids that dominate the landscape, each with their own temple on top and measuring more than 60 metres high in some cases.