April 1, 2021

Archaeologists Unearth Long-Lost Capital of Ancient Maya Kingdom

Archaeologists excavating the site of Lacanja Tzeltal in Chiapas have discovered the ruins of the capital of a kingdom known from Classic period Maya inscriptions as Sak Tz’i’ (White Dog). They found a trove of Maya monuments, one of which has an important inscription describing rituals, battles, a mythical water serpent and the dance of a rain god. The site was settled at 750 CE and occupied for 1000 years.

The archaeologists found the city’s marketplace and the ball court, a high pyramid and surrounding structures for the elite and priests, and a large ceremonial plaza wit a high platform for dignitaries. They built walls on a stream on one side and masonry walls on another side because they were surrounded by enemies.

They found a tablet telling of a mythical water serpent, a mythic flood, gods who are not named, and the lives of rulers. One ruler is dressed as Yoppat, the god of tropical storms.

He carries an axe in his right hand that is the lightning bolt of the storm.  In his left hand, he carries a ‘manopla,’ a stone gauntlet or bludgeon used in ritual combat.

The team’s paper was published in the Journal of Field Archaeology.

Charles Golden et al. 2020. Centering the Classic Maya Kingdom of Sak Tz’i’. Journal of Field Archaeology 45 (2): 67-85; doi: 10.1080/00934690.2019.1684748

Sci-News has the report here;