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Fri Oct 14, 2016, 10:51 PM

Secret Mayan tombs lend rare insight into rule of mysterious 'snake kings'

Secret Mayan tombs lend rare insight into rule of mysterious 'snake kings'

Jade-inlaid teeth and inscribed tibia unearthed in Holmul ruins of Guatemala hint at influence and power of Mayan dynasty known for snakehead emblem

Alan Yuhas
Friday 14 October 2016 05.30 EDT

Archaeologists in Guatemala have unearthed two Maya tombs that “miraculously escaped” looters’ tunnels underneath two Maya pyramids, where researchers hope that jade-inlaid teeth, an inscribed human tibia and a puzzling sun-god pendant could give insight into the rule of ancient “snake kings”.

The tombs were found at the ancient ruins of Holmul, 300 miles north of Guatemala City, and date back to about 650-700AD, the era of Maya dominance before their mysterious collapse a few centuries later. Inside one was a puzzling artifact of a Maya dynasty that archaeologists call the snake kings, after the snakehead emblem of their house – a family that ruled 100 miles to the north, far from the tombs found in Holmul.

One tomb is a vaulted chamber, built into a pyramid that was constructed to surround an older, fifth-century building. Inside was the skeleton of a middle-aged person whose teeth had jade inlays, a custom of Maya royalty, and an inscribed human tibia, “a very, very rare find”, archaeologist Francisco Estrada-Belli told the Guardian.

“It could be from an ancestor or captive of war,” he said, though the researchers will have to wait for an epigrapher with scanning equipment to read the badly eroded text.



Homul frieze


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