Posts Tagged With: Mayan
Archaeologists announced Thursday they have uncovered the tomb of a very early Mayan ruler, complete with rich jade jewelry and decoration.
Experts said the find at Guatemala’s Tak’alik Ab’aj temple site could help shed light on the formative years of the Mayan culture.
Government archaeologist Miguel Orrego said carbon-dating indicates the tomb was built between 700 and 400 B.C., several hundred years before the Mayan culture reached its height. He said it was the oldest tomb found so far at Tak’alik Ab’aj, a site in southern Guatemala that dates back about 2,200 years.
Orrego said a necklace depicting a vulture-headed human figure appeared to identify the tomb’s occupant as an “ajaw,” or ruler.
“This symbol gives this burial greater importance,” Orrego said. “This glyph says he … is one of the earliest rulers of Tak’alik Ab’aj.”
No bones were found during the excavation of the tomb in September, probably because they had decayed.
Experts said the rich array of jade articles in the tomb could provide clues about production and trade patterns.
Susan Gillespie, an archaeologist at the University of Florida who was not involved in the excavation, said older tombs have been found from ruling circles at the Mayan site of Copan in Honduras as well as in southern Mexico, where the Olmec culture, a predecessor to the Mayas, flourished.
Olmec influences are present in the area around Tak’alik Ab’aj, indicating possible links.
Gillespie said that because it is near a jadeite production center, the find could shed light on early techniques and trade in the stone, which was considered by the Maya to have sacred properties.
Experts in Mexico say they have determined that the ancient Mayas used watchtower-style structures at the temple complex of Chichen Itza to observe the equinoxes and solstices.
The bases of the structures were found atop the walls of the long ceremonial court, where a ritual ball game was played.
But to determine their use, archaeologists first had to rebuild the small, stone-roofed structures.
Each of the structures has a narrow slit running through it.
Government archaeologist Jose Huchim says he has found that the sun’s rays shine into the slits at the winter solstice, and at another angle on the equinoxes.
Huchim said Thursday that stairways to the structures are being restored so visitors can observe the phenomenon.
Archaeologists in Guatemala say they have discovered the 7th-century tomb of Lady K’abel, one of the greatest queens of classic Maya civilization.
Unearthed during excavations of the royal Maya city of El Perú-Waka’ in northwestern Petén, Guatemala, the grave contained the skeletal remains of a mature individual buried with rich offerings such as dozens of ceramic vessels, numerous carved jade, shell artifacts and a small, carved alabaster jar.
According to the archaeologists, the white vessel strongly suggest the tomb belonged to the warrior Queen Lady K’abel.
Carved as a conch shell, with a head and arm of an aged woman emerging from the opening, the alabaster jar portrayed a woman, mature with a lined face and a strand of hair in front of her ear, while on the other side it featured a brief glyphic text consisting of four hieroglyphs.
The final two glyphs named the owner as “Lady Waterlily-Hand, Princess of Calakmul.”
“This is almost certainly an alternative spelling of the name of Lady K’abel, as both names consist of hands holding waterlilies and both are titled as princesses of Calakmul,” David Freidel, professor of archaeology at Washington University in St. Louis and co-director of the expedition, said.
The most powerful person in Waka’ during her lifetime, Lady K’abel is known in Maya archaeology because of a beautiful and detailed portrait of her in a stela dated to 692 A.D. The carved stone slab was looted from Waka’ in the 1960s and is now in the Cleveland Art Museum.
Lady K’abel ruled with her husband, K’inich Bahlam, for at least 20 years (672-692 A.D.). She was the military governor of the Wak kingdom for her family, the imperial house of the Snake King, and carried the title Kaloomte’, which translates to “Supreme Warrior.”
“The significance of this woman’s powerful role as a ‘Kaloomte,’ a title rarely associated with Maya women, provides tremendous insight on the nexus of gender and power in Classic Maya politics,” Olivia Navarro-Farr, assistant professor of sociology and anthropology at The College of Wooster and co-director of the expedition, said.
The discovery of the tomb of the seventh-century Maya queen occurred while Navarro-Farr investigated “ritually potent” features at El Perú-Waka’, such as shrines, altars, and dedicatory offerings.
The tomb was found underneath various phases of a masonry shrine that had been placed on a staircase.
The shrine contained a monumental fire altar which had been dedicated by the sacrifice of a mature woman buried underneath it.
“Below that last shrine was a buried earlier version and it was below this earlier shrine that the royal tomb was found,” Freidel and Navarro-Farr said.
It soon became clear to the archaeologists why the structure received so much ritual attention throughout its final occupation.
“The golden age of the city, and the great queen and her husband who presided over it, were remembered and celebrated by ordinary people with their humble offerings,” the researchers said.
Inside the tomb the team led by Freidel and Navarro-Farr found the skeletal remains of an individual, whose skull was almost covered by ceramic vessels.
Deterioration of the bones did not permit a clear identification of the subject as male or female.
“If female, the interred individual had more robust than gracile features,” the researchers said. The traits would match the queen’s portrait on the stela on display at the Cleveland Art Museum.
One further clue favoring the identification of the skeleton as a queen was the presence of a large red spiny oyster shell on the lower torso.
“Late Classic queens at Waka’, including K’abel, regularly wore such a shell as a girdle ornament in their stela portraits while kings did not,” the researchers said.
According to Freidel, the newly uncovered tomb is a rare situation in which Maya archaeological and historical records meet.
“To put the discovery into perspective, there are five maya tombs in Classic Maya history that are indentifiable as to the person inside them — this is one of those five,” Freidel said.
Excavating a remote Maya palace in the ruined city of Uxul, archaeologists in Mexico have uncovered the ancient tomb of a young prince—and a rare artifact.
The floor of an entrance building within Uxul’s 11-building royal complex concealed the entrance to the small chamber, which held the remains of the 20- to 25-year-old man and nine ceramic objects.
On one cup, “there was a simple message … in elegantly modeled hieroglyphics that read: ‘[This is] the cup of the young man/prince,'” team member Nikolai Grube, an anthropologist at Germany’s University of Bonn, said in a late-July statement.
Another cup bears a date, which Grube and colleague Kai Delvendahl interpret to mean the year A.D. 711, giving some indication as to when the prince lived and died.
It’s common for Maya artifacts to refer to their owners, Grube said. But all previous princely drinking vessels have been excavated “illegally, without controlled excavation, by looters. This is the first time we have found such a vessel in an archaeological context.”
The Maya civilization sprawled across much of modern-day Guatemala, Belize, and Mexico’s Yucatán Peninsula. Around A.D. 900 the so-called Classic era of the Maya Empire came to a close after a series of droughts and perhaps political strife.
Despite its obvious archaeological attractions, the small tomb at Uxul (ooh-SHOOL) is noticeably lacking in jade jewelry—suggesting the prince was not in line for the throne, experts say.