10/03/2012 Archaeologists discover the tomb of one of the greatest queens of Classic Maya civilization piecing together for the first time Maya archaeological and historical records.
The tomb of Lady K’abel, a seventh-century Maya Holy Snake Lord, was discovered in the royal Maya city of El Peru’-Waka’ in northeastern Pet’en, Guatemala.
The team of archaeologists at El Perú-Waka found a carved alabaster jar in a burial chamber. The team concluded that the tomb belonged to Lady K’abel partially based on the distinct characteristics of the white alabaster jar.
The jar is carved as a conch shell, with a head and arm of an aged woman emerging from the opening. The depiction of the woman, mature with a lined face and a strand of hair in front of her ear, and four glyphs carved into the jar, point to the jar as belonging to K’abel.
The team also found ceramic vessels in the tomb and stela (large stone slab) carvings on the outside, the tomb is likely that of K’abel, says Freidel, PhD, professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences and Maya scholar.
“The precise nature of the text and image information on the white stone jar and its tomb context constitute a remarkable and rare conjunction of these two kinds of records in the Maya area.”
“In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense that the people of Waka’ buried her in this particularly prominent place in their city,” Freidel says.
K’abel, considered the greatest ruler of the Late Classic period, ruled with her husband, Kinich Bahlam, for at least 20 years (672-692 AD), Freidel says. She was the military governor of the Wak kingdom for her family, the imperial house of the Snake King, and she carried the title “Kaloomte,” translated to “Supreme Warrior,” higher in authority than her husband, the king.
K’abel also is famous for her portrayal on the famous Maya stela, Stela 34 of El Perú, now in the Cleveland Art Museum.
The team of archaeologists led by Washington University in St. Louis’ David Freidel included professor of anthropology at WUSTL, the project is co-directed by Juan Carlos Pérez, former vice minister of culture for cultural heritage of Guatemala. Olivia Navarro-Farr, assistant professor of anthropology at the College of Wooster in Ohio, directed the excavations with Griselda Pérez Robles, former director of prehistoric monuments in the National Institute of Anthropology and History, and archaeologist Damaris Menéndez.
The team has been working on the project in El Peru-Waka’ since 2003 attempting to uncover and study “ritually-charged” features such as shrines, altars and dedicatory offerings. .
El Perú-Waka’ is an ancient Maya city in northwestern Petén, Guatemala. It was part of Classic Maya civilization (200-900 AD) in the southern lowlands. It is located approximately 75 km west of the famous city of Tikal. The city center consists of nearly a sq km of plazas, palaces, temple pyramids, and residences surrounded by many sq km of dispersed residences and temples.