Archeological pieces found in the "Entierro 61" (Burial 61)
in the royal tomb of the Mayan Queen Kalomt'e K'abel, north
of Guatemala City. Photo by Reuters.
Archaeologists in Guatemala have discovered the tomb of
an ancient Mayan warrior queen packed with jade jewels and
other artifacts that shed light on the long-vanished
Researchers from Guatemala and the United States uncovered
the remains of Queen Kalomt'e K'abel, who reigned in the
seventh century, at the Peru-Waka dig site in the sweltering
Peten jungle region in northern Guatemala.
Inside the tomb, the team found a hoard of glistening jade
jewels and a small alabaster vase decorated with the image of
an older woman's face and inscribed with the queen's name,
providing identification of the long-dead ruler.
"To discover something of this importance is very unusual,"
lead archaeologist David Freidel told Reuters. "She was the
supreme warlord of her kingdom."
The remains were discovered in June but it has taken until
now for experts to verify the identity of the queen.
The Central American nation is studded with pyramids and
ruins from the ancient Mayan civilization, which thrived
between AD 250 and 900 and extended from modern day Honduras
to central Mexico.
Queen K'abel's portrait has appeared on Mayan plaques that
associate her with the year 692 during the Mayan classic
period, when her husband, king Wak K'inich Bahlam II, ruled.
Historians believe that K'abel reigned over Calakmul, a Mayan
community which often battled the powerful king 'El Zotz' and
his kingdom Tikal - just south of the border with present-day
Mexico - where well-preserved ruins are a popular draw for
Deciphering the identities of ancient Mayan leaders from dig
sites often proves a challenge. While rulers' tombs are often
covered with ancient hieroglyphics and pictures, determining
precise names is difficult, researchers said.
"We had made a lot of discoveries of objects making reference
to this queen and now to complete it with her remains is very
important," said Guatemalan archaeologist Griselda Perez.