William Saturno with a grupo of UFM students at the Friedrich A. Hayek auditorium

In 1999, in an adventure that nearly costs him his life, the archaeologist William Saturno discovered “the Sistine Chapel” of the Mayans in a small preclassic city at the northeast of Petén.

The murals at San Bartolo is the most extraordinary discovery of Mayan archaeology in recent years; rich images in iconography, extraordinary state of conservation and surely painted in the late preclassic period  100 AD.  The circumstances of their discovery can be read at the
project´s website.

On January 16, 2005, at the Francisco Marroquín University, Saturn gave a lecture on the murals of San Bartolo, that show the vision of the world which the mayans had.  Saturn was concentrated in explaining the iconográfic relation that are between the scenes of the murals and the cardinal points; as well as the mitológicos trees and birds that indicate them.

Saturn made comparisons between the identified cardinal points in San Bartolo and the identified ones by Carl Taube in the Codex of Dresden.  By the way, in the Museum Popol Vuh ther is a facsimile of that Mayan document and a copy of the North part of the murals in discusión.  In January of 2004, Saturn gave another conference on the subject, at the Museum Popol Vuh.

Like never before, the murals revealed the preclasic Mayan mithologic concepts and providee an unexpected opportunity to appreciate the artistic complexity of that period; the murals display one of the oldest hieroglyphic texts of the Mayan area.

In his chat, Saturn presented the details of the discovery and investigation of the site that, in 2002, appeared in a news article in the National Geographic Magazine.  Saturn obtained a doctorate in the University of Harvard, whose Peabody Museum has taken care of the site.  At the moment he is a professor at the University of New Hampshire.

More photos,
here.