Saturday, July 17, 2010

4th Century CE Well Preserved Mayan Tomb Discovered

An astonishingly well preserved tomb is discovered - hope they have armed guards and get all the goodies documents on site and out of there before the looters and robbers appear.  I don't know what they can do to keep the tomb paintings safe short of cuttimg them out and shipping them under guard to the nearest museum. 

Archaeologists Discover Mayan Royal Tomb
The tomb was found near the El Diablo pyramid in the city of El Zotz, in Guatemala
By Smaranda Biliuti, News Editor
July 17th, 2010, 07:56 GMT

A team of archaeologists from Brown University, lead by Dupee Family Professor of Social Science and professor of anthropology, Stephen Houston, found an ancient tomb of a Mayan king. The small room also contains remains of what are believed to be six children and a multitude of ceramics, carvings and textiles.
This tomb is dated between 350 and 400 AD and scientists believe that the Mayan king buried inside it might have been the founder of a dynasty. Houston's team knew that there was a small temple built in the locations of the diggings, a tribute to the sun god and figure of Mayan supremacy, still they were surprised by what they discovered.

“When we sunk a pit into the small chamber of the temple, we hit almost immediately a series of 'caches' -- blood-red bowls containing human fingers and teeth, all wrapped in some kind of organic substance that left an impression in the plaster. We then dug through layer after layer of flat stones, alternating with mud, which probably is what kept the tomb so intact and airtight,” remembers professor Houston.

On May 29, the team had the chance of seeing the Mayan treasures with their own eyes. After the final earthen layer was removed, a cavity was discovered and in the light of a bare light bulb they saw a rainbow of colors as the tomb was covered in paintings, pieces of wood, textiles and many organics Houston had never seen before. “When we opened the tomb,” he said, “I poked my head in and there was still, to my astonishment, a smell of putrification and a chill that went to my bones. The chamber had been so well sealed, for over 1600 years, that no air and little water had entered.”

The tomb was rather small, 6 feet high, 12 feet long and 4 feet wide. Even though Andrew Scherer, assistant professor of anthropology at Brown and bone analyst has not yet confirmed the findings inside the tomb, it appears to have held and adult male and six children, probably sacrificed at the man's death.

As for the man's identity, Houston says that “these items are artistic riches, extraordinarily preserved from a key time in Maya history. From the tomb's position, time, richness, and repeated constructions atop the tomb, we believe this is very likely the founder of a dynasty.” He added that a lot of work was still to be done. “Remember, we've only been out of the field for a few weeks and we're still catching our breath after a very difficult, technical excavation. Royal tombs are hugely dense with information and require years of study to understand. No other deposits come close,” he added.

The news of the discovery was made public two days ago (on Thursday) at a press conference in Guatemala City.

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