Friday, August 26, 2016

Mysterious Carvings Found in a Maya Royal Tomb May Reveal Murky Secrets of the 'Snake Dynasty


Discovery of Hidden Royal Tomb – Ancient Maya Ruins

Archaeologists have discovered the hidden royal tomb in the ancient Maya ruins of Xunantunich in western Belize which reveals a new chapter in the story of the powerful Snake Dynasty.The tombs could be among the biggest to be located in Belize at the ruins of Xunantunich in the city on the Mopan River which had been a ceremonial centre, which was at its height during 600 – 890 AD.

In it were the remains of a mysterious male of the Xunantunich royal family between the age of 20 and 30 years. Research done on the remains indicated that he had been powerfully built and muscular and his body was placed on the floor of the tomb on his back with his head positioned towards the south.There were around 36 ceramic vessels placed besides the body, together with a necklace of jade beads stone blade and bones from jaguars and deer.

Moreover, the archaeologist also discovered three hieroglyphic panels towards the flanks of the central stairway which lead to the summit of the temple covering the tomb. The panels are said to be the part of a hieroglyphic stair which had earlier been erected at Caracol, around 26 miles south of Zunantunich.


Texts On Two Panels, Stimulating Epigraphers of Maya- America & Europe

An anthropologist at Northern Arizona University, Dr Jaime Awe leading the team who had made the discovery, stated that `the texts on the two panels now stimulating the epigraphers of Maya, across America and Europe. Maya Epigraphers contend that the Hieroglyphic Stair was custom-built by Caracol’s ruler Lord K’an II to record his defeat of the site of Naranjo.

A number of years later, in 680 AD, Naranjo defeats Caracol and as part of its revenge is believed to have dismantled the Hieroglyphic Stair and moved it to Naranjo where it was again resembled. But when the panels had been re-assembled at Naranjo in a jumbled order, some of the parts had been missing which did not reveal much. Some of the experts were of the belief that this had been done intentionally by the people of Naranjo to distort the history of their rivals.

Archaeologist discovered one of the missing panels at a site which was further up the river from Zunantunich known as Ucanal and another fragment had been located at Caracol.
Image: Jaime Awe

Dynasty Named – Snake Head Emblem Linked with Line of Rulers

However, Dr Awe informs that the panels that were found outside the tomb at Xunantunich were presumed to represent two more of the missing panels. He states that it could be a possibility that Zunantunich may have assisted as an ally of Naranjo in the event of defeat of Caracol and the panels seemed to represent war booty gifted to the site for this participation.

It meant that the individual they had located entombed with the panels could have played an important role in the victory over Caracol as a supporter of Naranjo. At that time, Naranjo had withdrawn its fealty to the disreputable Snake Dynasty that had its power centre in Calakmul. The dynasty is said to have earned its name due to the snake head emblem linked with its line of rulers.

Dr Awe mentioned that the individual were undoubtedly member of the ruling choice at Xunantunich. The size of the tomb together with its burial temple within the city centre with the associated grave goods and the other cultural materials related with the building strongly indicated that he could have been one of the rulers at the site.

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