A jade mask from the tomb of King Maya was found in Guatemala. PHOTO

A jade mask from the tomb of King Maya was found in Guatemala.  PHOTO

A 1700-year-old jade mask was found in the tomb of one of the kings of the Mayan civilization in Guatemala.

The artifact was discovered by researcher Francisco Estrada-Belli in the northeastern city of Chochquitam, according to National Geographic.

Scientists have found the burial of a ruler named Itsam Kokai Bahlam, who probably ruled the city of Maya around 350 AD.

However, Francisco suggests that this ruler may have obeyed even more powerful Mesoamerican dynasties.

“This is a very controversial topic. The mask is another nail in the ‘coffin’ of old interpretations of Maya history,” – says the archaeologist.

Photo: National Geographic

And although the discovery was described only now, the burial of the ruler of the Mayan civilization was discovered in Chochchitam as early as 2021. The robbers digging the tunnel to the royal tomb could outrun the scientists. But Francisco Estrada-Belli and his colleague Bhanni Giron, using LIDAR mapping technology, spotted a spot that the looters appeared to have missed.

The men started digging. When they went deeper into the pyramid more than seven meters, the process was more like digging a well. But then Giron found a skull, some teeth and a stone box in the shape of a coffin.

Estrada-Belli noticed the offerings that accompanied the burial: a pot, a collection of huge oyster shells, many bones, as well as jade pieces.

Scientists got a lot of information from the mask, which was made of pieces of jade. It turned out that the two bones did not belong to the buried king, but the carvings on them indicated the status of the ruler.

In one of the carved images, the ruler held the head of the god Mai, which was depicted on a mask made by Estrada-Belli.

Jade was used to create mosaic masks that represented deities or ancestors, demonstrating the wealth and power of the buried. So the mask gave archaeologists a clue as to the status of the burial.

Using carbon analysis of bone fragments and incense resin, scientists were able to date the burial to 350 AD.

Numerous finds from the burial point to a Maya leader with elite status and royal authority. However, scientists have a hypothesis that this local leader was actually subordinate to a more powerful ruler.

“Everything tells me that it was a Maya ruler who was part of the royal network… If you read between the lines, he was a vassal of the rulers of Tikal and Teotihuacan (ancient cities – ed.)– says Estrada-Belli.

We will remind you that Maya is one of the civilizations of Mesoamerica, known for its developed writing and cultural achievements. It existed in the Preclassic period (1999 BC – 250 AD), flourished in the Classic period (250-900 AD), and continued to exist in mountainous Guatemala and the Yucatan until the arrival of the conquistadors in the 16th century.

Read also: Scientists have calculated the age of the Mayan calendar

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