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La Muerta

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Title: La Muerta  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: El Tintal, Chama (Maya site), Tipu, Belize, Muyil, Witzna
Collection: Archaeological Sites in Guatemala, Former Populated Places in Guatemala, Maya Sites in Petén Department
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

La Muerta

Structure at La Muerta

La Muerta is a Maya archaeological site in the northern Petén region of Guatemala, located between the sites of El Mirador and El Tintal.[1] It is located on a promontory 3.5 kilometres (2.2 mi) south of the El Tigre complex of El Mirador, and it is considered a satellite of that city.[2] La Muerta was inhabited during the Early to Late Classic Period.[3] The site has been extensively looted.[4]

Although the precise origin of the name is unknown, the site takes its name from when it was used as a gum-gatherers' camp,[5] the name meaning "the dead (woman or thing)" in Spanish.

La Muerta was investigated by archaeologist Richard D. Hansen in the 1980s.[6] Some of the roof combs of the structures remain in good condition.[7] The site is divided into North and South Groups, located approximately 400 metres (1,300 ft) apart.[8] Eleven residential areas have been identified within these two groups.[9]


  • Structures 1
  • Monuments 2
  • Notes 3
  • References 4


Structure A1 is a temple with a north-facing stairway.[10] The building measures 11.5 metres (38 ft) by 8.6 metres (28 ft) and is 9.4 metres (31 ft) high,[11] with walls built of limestone.[12] The structure has been severely damaged by looters.[13] During archaeological investigations of the building, a damaged but finely crafted stucco face was excavated.[14]

Structure A2 is a pyramid immediately to the west of Structure A1 and has been badly damaged by a combination of natural erosion and looting.[15] Archaeologists have completely excavated the interior of the structure.[16] The structure has six vaulted rooms of different sizes with fine stucco floors.[17] The walls had been partially faced with stucco which showed traces of red paint.[18] The building had stairways on the north and south sides,[19] these were flanked by poorly preserved sculpted masks that had traces of red and blue paint.[20] Investigations of Structure A2 have revealed abundant ceramics dating to both the Early and Late Classic.[21]

Structure 2 at La Muerta is one of the most unusual Maya buildings in the northern Petén region, with a two-level subterranean labyrinth.[22]


Monument 1 is a sculptured stela that was found in the North Group.[23] It was in a very poor state of preservation, being badly eroded and broken into more than 900 fragments of various sizes.[24] It is likely that the monument was deliberately destroyed in antiquity.[25] The stela bears the image of a head in profile, wearing a mask.[26] The face is above the representation of a large monster head with upper teeth.[27] A column of at least six hieroglyphs is also present.[28] The main figure is thought to be that of a deity.[29]

Stela 2 is an isolated monument located about 100 metres (330 ft) north of the path leading to El Mirador.[30] It is a limestone stela measuring 2.9 metres (9.5 ft) tall, and is divided into upper and lower portions by a worn depression.[31] The stela has several carved circular cavities measuring roughly 6 centimetres (2.4 in) across and 3 centimetres (1.2 in) deep but is otherwise plain, it may originally have been covered in painted stucco.[32]


  1. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.69.
  2. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.69. Hansen et al 1995, p.475.
  3. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, pp.69, 73.
  4. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.69.
  5. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.69.
  6. ^ Hansen et al 1995, p.475.
  7. ^ Hansen et al 1995, p.473.
  8. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.69.
  9. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.69.
  10. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.72.
  11. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.72.
  12. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.72.
  13. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.72.
  14. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.72.
  15. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, pp.69, 72.
  16. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.72.
  17. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.72.
  18. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.72.
  19. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.72.
  20. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.73.
  21. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.73.
  22. ^ Hansen et al 1995, p.475.
  23. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.78.
  24. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.78.
  25. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.79.
  26. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.78.
  27. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.78.
  28. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.78.
  29. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.78.
  30. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.79.
  31. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, pp.79, 81.
  32. ^ Suyuc et al 2005, p.79.


Suyuc, Edgar; Beatriz Balcárcel;; Francisco López; Silvia Alvarado (2005). "Excavaciones en el sitio La Muerta, Cuenca Mirador, Petén" ( 

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