The Ramírez family sits in front of the Mayan mural discovered inside its home. (Photo by Robert Slabonski)
National Geographic explains that Lucas Asicona Ramírez made the discovery while renovating his home five years ago in the village of Chajul.
The painting has been uncovered for the first time in centuries, and archaeologists are scrambling to document the images, which are fading quickly after exposure to air and light.
"We don't get a lot of this type of artwork; it's not commonly preserved in the New World," said Boston University archaeologist William Saturno."It'd be neat to see who the folks were who painted on the wall and why."
The painting show figures walking in a procession line, and some of the figures may be holding human hearts. They are also dressed in what appear to be a mix of traditional Mayan and Spanish clothing.
The mural is believed to have been created sometime after the 16th-century Spanish conquest of Guatemala, according to archaeologist Jarosław Źrałka,
Źrałka told National Geographic it has been a long and trying process to get permission to examine homes in the impoverished village. "I think they were afraid of us," he said.
"There's 500 years of history in this town," Saturno added. "See whose [house] it was. It's unlikely to be just Joe Schmo's house—it's probably an important person's house."