July 23, 2010

Maya Royal Tomb Opened

The Maya Empire stretched over a huge area, encompassing modern day south Mexico and the northern part of Central America. It was in the southern region of the Maya world that a 1,000 year old royal tomb was uncovered in May. The find was announced this week with the discoveries inside adding great insight to our knowledge about the ancient Maya.

The burial chamber was inside a pyramid, which had lay hidden underneath thick jungle, near to the city of El Zotz. It appears to be largely intact, subject only to the ravages of Mother Nature, rather than the plundering of later people. The art and artifacts found inside are going to advance our understanding about the Maya, especially since they include some oddities.

Alongside carvings, ceramics and beads, there was the grisly find of six sacrificed infants. As already discussed in previous blogs, the Maya did not undertake the industrial scale human sacrifice, as shown in films like 'Apocalypto'. But the sacrifice of one or two individuals was not unknown, especially during the ascension of a new monarch. It would appear now that the sacrifices were also linked to the demise of the previous one. However, that is open to interpretation.

A team from Brown University, Rhode Island, USA, led the excavation. Andrew Scherer, one of its anthropologists, said, "Why the children would have been killed is a mystery. But the youth of the victims hints that their value as sacrifices may have lain in their being, to Maya eyes, on the verge of personhood."

Read the full story, by John Roach, at the National Geographic News website: Bowls of Fingers, Baby Victims, More Found in Maya Tomb. Meanwhile, the current home-page has a photographic slide-show of some of the artifacts from the tomb: Click here to see it

There is also a interactive map on the site, showing the cities of the Maya Empire, as well as a quiz about its people and settlements.

Chichén Itzá
Chichén Itzá
Various tours, to suit every wallet or time-frame, to the most famous of all the Maya ruins.

Tulum & Xel-Ha All Inclusive
Tulum & Xel-Ha All Inclusive
Combine Maya history with natural beauty! Tour the Tulúm ruins, then swim in the Xel Ha natural aquarium.

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