Archaeologists believe they have uncovered the tomb and remains of a Maya warrior queen in Guatemala.
Believed to be Lady K’abel, military ruler of the Wak, or “Centipede,” kingdom between A.D. 672 and 692, the discovery was made at the site of the ancient city El Perú-Waka’ in the main pyramid temple. The body had been buried with offerings like jade jewelry, stone figurines, ceramic works and, most notably, a conch-shaped alabaster jar with a carving of an old woman’s head and arms coming out (shown right). On the back of the jar, it says “Lady Water Lily Hand” and “Lady Snake Lord” in hieroglyphs, the names thought to refer to Lady K’abel.
While the skeleton is in poor condition, the skull’s facial features match those of ancient carved portraits of the queen. Additionally, a red oyster placed on the body’s lower torso is further evidence, as queens of El Perú-Waka’ traditionally wore these shells as girdle ornaments.
Although the once-impressive pyramids, plazas, palaces and homes of El Perú-Waka’ now lie in rubble hidden beneath tropical rainforest, this discovery puts into perspective why the Maya city remained deeply respected and a focus of rituals even after the Wak Kingdom collapsed.
According to National Geographic, the excavation’s study team has written, “It is now clear to us that 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 and hopes for renewal of the future.”
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