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Recently unearthed Mayan tomb may have belonged to warrior queen

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
October 5th, 2012
Catholic Online (www.catholic.org)

Archaeologists say they've discovered what may be the tomb of seventh-century warrior queen Lady K'abel, one of the greatest of all Mayan rulers. The tomb was discovered during excavations at the ancient Maya city of El Perú-Waka' in the rain forest of northern Guatemala.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Excavators found a white jar along the body that was shaped like a conch shell with the head and arm of a woman carved at the opening. The artifact had four hieroglyphs that suggest it belonged to K'abel.

"Nothing is ever proven in archaeology because we're working with circumstantial evidence. But in our case we have a carved stone alabaster jar that is named K'abel's possession," David Freidel, an archaeologist working on the site says.

Freidel, of Washington University in St. Louis noted that the find is "as close to a smoking gun" as you get in archaeology.

The plazas, palaces, temple pyramids and residences of El Perú-Waka' belong to the Classic Maya civilization, which existed from the years 200-900 AD. K'abel was part of a royal family and carried the title "Kaloomte," which translates to "Supreme Warrior." K'abel had even higher in authority than her king husband, K'inich Bahlam, according to Freidel and his excavation team. K'abel is believed to have reigned with him from about A.D. 672-692.

Researchers say that ceramic vessels also found in the burial chamber and carvings on a stone slab outside of it also indicate the tomb belongs to K'abel, as does a large red spiny oyster shell found on the lower torso of the remains.

"Late Classic queens at 'Waka,' including K'abel, regularly wore such a shell as a girdle ornament in their stela portraits while kings did not," the researchers wrote in a report.

The remains indicate that the buried person was a "mature individual." But the bones were too deteriorated for scientists to determine whether they belonged to a male or female.

Excavations have been underway at El Perú-Waka' since 2003. The K'abel find has not yet appeared in a peer-reviewed scientific journal.

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