Welcome Guest!

Tomb of Ancient Mayan Queen Discovered in Guatemala

Rate this item
(1 Vote)

Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered the tomb of Lady K’abel, a seventh-century Maya Holy Snake Lord considered one of the great queens of Classic Maya civilization.

The tomb was discovered during excavations of the royal Maya city of El Perú-Waka’ in northwestern Petén, Guatemala, by a team of archaeologists led by Washington University in St. Louis’ David Freidel, co-director of the expedition. A small, carved alabaster jar found in the burial chamber caused the archaeologists to conclude the tomb was that of Lady K’abel. The white jar is carved as a conch shell, with a head and arm of an aged woman emerging from the opening.

The depiction of the woman, mature with a lined face and a strand of hair in front of her ear, and four glyphs carved into the jar, point to the jar as belonging to K’abel.

Based on this and other evidence, including ceramic vessels found in the tomb and stela (large stone slab) carvings on the outside, the tomb is likely that of K’abel, says Freidel, PhD, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences and Maya scholar. Freidel says the discovery is significant not only because the tomb is that of a notable historical figure in Maya history, but also because the newly uncovered tomb is a rare situation in which Maya archaeological and historical records meet.

“The Classic Maya civilization is the only ‘classical’ archaeological field in the New World — in the sense that like archaeology in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia or China, there is both an archaeological material record and an historical record based on texts and images,” Freidel says.

WUSTL archaeologist David Freidel, PhD, was part of a team that discovered the tomb of Lady K’abel, a seventh-century Maya Holy Snake Lord considered one of the great queens of Classic Maya civilization. “The precise nature of the text and image information on the white stone jar and its tomb context constitute a remarkable and rare conjunction of these two kinds of records in the Maya area.”

The discovery of the tomb of the great queen was “serendipitous, to put it mildly,” Freidel says. The team at El Perú-Waka’ has focused on uncovering and studying “ritually-charged” features such as shrines, altars and dedicatory offerings rather than on locating burial locations of particular individuals. “In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense that the people of Waka’ buried her in this particularly prominent place in their city,” Freidel says.

Olivia Navarro-Farr, PhD, assistant professor of anthropology at the College of Wooster in Ohio, originally began excavating the locale while still a doctoral student of Freidel’s. Continuing to investigate this area this season was of major interest to both she and Freidel because it had been the location of a temple that received much reverence and ritual attention for generations after the fall of the dynasty at El Perú. With the discovery, archaeologists now understand the likely reason why the temple was so revered: K’abel was buried there, Freidel says.

K’abel, considered the greatest ruler of the Late Classic period, ruled with her husband, K’inich Bahlam, for at least 20 years (672-692 AD), Freidel says. She was the military governor of the Wak kingdom for her family, the imperial house of the Snake King, and she carried the title “Kaloomte’,” translated to “Supreme Warrior,” higher in authority than her husband, the king. K’abel also is famous for her portrayal on the famous Maya stela, Stela 34 of El Perú, now in the Cleveland Art Museum.

El Perú-Waka’, located approximately 75 km west of the famous city of Tikal, is an ancient Maya city in northwestern Petén, Guatemala. It was part of Classic Maya civilization (200-900 AD) in the southern lowlands and consists of nearly a square kilometer of plazas, palaces, temple pyramids and residences surrounded by many square kilometers of dispersed residences and temples.

This discovery was made under the auspices of the National Institute of Anthropology and History in Guatemala. The El Perú-Waka’ project is sponsored by the Foundation for the Cultural and Natural Patrimony of Guatemala
 

Leave a comment

Make sure you enter the (*) required information where indicated. HTML code is not allowed.

News

Aug 26, 2013

Prehistoric Meteorite ‘Shrines’ in Arizona

Two twelfth-century settlements a hundred kilometers apart in Arizona were apparently built by discrete cultures, but they… More
Oct 03, 2012

Tomb of Ancient Mayan Queen Discovered in Guatemala

Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered the tomb of Lady K’abel, a seventh-century Maya Holy Snake Lord considered one… More
Mar 23, 2014

The Remarkable Coin Cache

My wife and I were heading to Southern Utah for a teaching conference. It was June 4th and school had just let out for the… More
Mar 07, 2014

Shamanic figurine guarding shaft tomb discovered in Colima

A shaft tomb containing skeletal remains along with a rich assemblage of grave goods, has been discovered in a later… More
Feb 11, 2014

Filmmakers search for Montezuma's treasure in Kanab pond

KANAB, Kane County – For 100 years, locals have believed Montezuma’s treasure lies at the end of a tunnel below Three Lakes… More

Museum

Apr 09, 2014

Creek Wind Clan Gorget

This gorget is an ancient symbol worn by the members of the Creek Wind Clan More
Apr 09, 2014

Boundary Stone. Babylonian Empire. 600 B.C.

Boundary Stone. Babylonian Empire. 600 B.C. More
Apr 09, 2014

Mayan Art from the Temple of Tikal

This amazing piece of ancient art once decorated the Mayan Temple at Tikal. It shows a man in a boat escaping from a land… More
Jun 28, 2013

Wari Gold and Silver Ear Ornaments

A pair of gold-and-silver ear ornaments that archaeologists believe a high-ranking Wari woman wore to her grave, the… More
Jan 20, 2010

Bronze Votive Plaque

Bronze Votive plaque dating 3rd C. AD (al Baleed Museum Salalah) was found during archaeological excavations of Khor Rori /… More
Nov 12, 2010

Tablet illustrating Pythagoras' Theorem and the square root of 2

Old Babylonian Period (19th-17th century BCE), southern Mesopotamia? This famous tablet, one of few to consist entirely of a… More