The tomb, which may very well be the largest royal tomb unearthed in over a century of excavations, was found by archaeologists at the ruins of Xunantunich, western Belize. The discovery is a real game changer for archaeologists, as it not only contains a human body, but also treasures and hieroglyphs that reveal evidence about the “snake dynasty”.
According to ArtNet, the site “was used as a burial ground towards the end of the Maya era, that is between 600 to 800 AD, and archaeologists had to dig down to between 16 and 26 feet, through millennia of layers of soil, to find the tomb”. This came after over a century or archaeological work in the area.
“It certainly has been a great field season for us,” team leader Dr. Jaime Awe told The Guardian. “It appears that the temple was purposely erected for the primary purpose of enclosing the tomb. Except for a very few rare cases, this is not very typical in ancient Maya architecture.”
Inside, the team, made up of experts from Northern Arizona University and the Belize Institute of Archaeology, found the remains of a male adult, somewhere between 20 and 30 years old. An entire set of tests are to be carried out to find out the probable cause of death and other personal details.
Two panels were also found at the site, carved with hieroglyphs featuring the snake’s head symbol of the dynasty, which are thought to tell of Lord Kan II’s defeat of the town of Naranjo. The team’s epigrapher, Christophe Helmke from the University of Copenhagen, told The Guardian that “[the tablets] tell us of the existence of a king of the dynasty that was a murky figure at best, who is clearly named as Waxaklajuun Ubaah Kan. This means that there were two contenders to the throne, both carrying the same dynastic title, which appears to have been read Kanu’l Ajaw, ‘king of the place where snakes abound’.”