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;


April 1, 2021

Over-the-Top Mayan Tomb Reveals Man Who Lived a Bit Too Large

Archaeologists at the Maya site to El Palmar excavated the tomb of  Apoch’Waal underneath a temple dedicated to his life. But in the tomb were only two decorated pots. The glyphs in the tomb show that he was a mayan standard bearer, an important diplomatic figure. His remains show malnutrition in his bones when he was young. His skull was cranially deformed to show his noble status. Pyrite and jade were drilled into hi teeth to further show his elite status, as he inherited the position of his father as a diplomatic emissary.

In 726 CE, he traveled to Copan for the king of Calakmul, his ruler, to seal an alliance. Returning, he built his temple. A war between Copan and Calakmul 10 years later led to a sudden economic downturn at El Palmar. In his later years, he developed severe arthritis, gum disease, and lost a jewel in his teeth, not replaced due to poverty. He died between 35 and 50, and still had enough prestige to be buried under his temple. He lived his last years in pain. 

The glyphs give us insight into shifts of fortune among the Maya elite in their time.

Yahoo News has the report here:

April 30, 2021

Teotihuacan Diplomatic Compound Discovered at the Maya Site of Tikal

Archaeologists at the Maya site of Tikal have found buildings and artifacts that appear to be an outpost of Teotihuacan, 600 miles away. The structures were made of earth and stucco that the Maya did not use. Weapons of green obsidian from the area of Teotihuacan, carvings of the Teotihuacan rain god and a Teotihuacan type burial were found. Teotihuacan dignitaries may have lived there during a time of peace before warfare between them began. The area looks too have been built at 300 CE. Teotihuacan conquered Tikal at 378 CE.

On January 15378 CE, a man by the name of Sihyaj K’ahk’, or Fire is Born, into the city on January 16, 378, and on that same day, the Tikal leader Jaguar Paw died. The Teotihuacan army was sent by the Two leader Spearthrower Owl. His son became king of Tikal. He wears a Too headdress and a Two spear in portraits. Maya murals at Teotihuacan were destroyed and buried at 350-450 CE, perhaps from a Tikal diplomatic compound there.

The compound at Tikal were located by LIDAR, and excavations in this area will continue.

Smithsonian has the report here:

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