Through the study of murals and fragments of ceramics, archaeologists excavating the ancient city of Ek Balam have discovered that it was once the site of a school of scribes and artists that brought new techniques, colors, the flowing lines of calligraphy and different symbols to the area. These gifted painters were to influence mural painting at other larger sites such as Chichen Itza.
During the reign of Ukit Kan Lek Tok’ (AD 770 – 801), a ruler who founded a powerful dynasty, Ek Balam or Talol flourished and art prospered. He commissioned buildings and renovated the façade of the principal temple-palace known as the Acropolis.
The first artists are thought to have come from outside the area and they taught local scribes and painters their craft. They covered every wall, arch and temple roof with their paintings, including images of prisoners of war and warriors performing rites associated with battles and musicians.
Ek Balam continued to dominate the area artistically into the 9th century.