1500 year-old Mayan altar found in Guatemala jungle
Archaeologists have unlocked the secrets of an amazing 1,500-year-old altar, which was discovered at a Mayan temple deep in the Guatemalan jungle.
Archaeologists have unlocked the secrets of an amazing 1,500-year-old altar discovered at a Mayan temple deep in the Guatemalan jungle.
The richly carved altar was discovered in 2017 at the Maya site of La Corona, located in the Peten jungle near the mexican border.
When it was first found, the altar was encased in the roots of a tree in a collapsed temple. It took a year to carefully pry the massive stone roots, to fully excavate and move to Guatemala City, where it was proposed earlier week in a museum.
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Made of limestone, the altar shows the image of the previously unknown king Chak Took Ich’aak wearing a two-headed snake image. Two local deities are shown from the hose.
A nearly 1,500-year-old carved altar from the Maya site of La Corona’, situated in the north of the Guatemalan department of Peten, is displayed in the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Guatemala City, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
Hieroglyphics associated with the image record to the end of a period in the Long Count Mayan calendar corresponds to May 12, 544 AD.
Experts say that the altar shows the Mayan dynasty of Kaanul, known as the Serpent Kings, acts like its namesake in slowly squeezing the rival kingdom of Tikal.
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“For a number of centuries in the Classical period, the Kaanul kings dominated much of the Maya Lowlands,” said Tomas Barrientos, co-director of the project and director of the Center for Archaeological and Anthropological Research at the University of the Valley of Guatemala, in a statement. “This altar contains information about their early strategies of expansion, showing that La Corona played an important role in the process from the beginning.”
Tulane archaeologist Marcello A. Canuto is located next to the altar, and he and his team discovered in the jungle of northern Guatemala. (Photo courtesy of the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Guatemala City)
Chak Took Ich’aak appears 20 years later as a vassal of the Kaanul dynasty and the ruler of the greater, in the vicinity of the city of Peru-Waka. But the gods associated with him are several local deities associated with the place.
“The discovery of this altar allows us to create a whole new king of La Corona, who apparently had close political ties with the capital of the Kaanul kingdom, Dzibanche, and with the nearby city of El Peru-Waka,” said Tulane University Professor Marcello Canuto, in the statement. Canuto is co-leader of the team that made the discovery.
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The archaeologist said the altar suggests Kaanul the final victory was the result of decades of astute political sensibility and cultural appropriation, not only battles.
The altar is the oldest monument of the Classic Maya-period-to-date the La Corona site, archaeologists say. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
Francisco Estrada-Belli, a Tulane University archaeologist who was not involved in the La Corona discovery, said: “The broader significance is that it shows that the behind-the-scenes … machinations of the Serpent Kings as they are in the expanding of their empire in the direction of Tikal.”
“Not long ago, we thought that the victory of Tikal was the result of a kind of out-of-the-blue blitz,” Estrada-Belli said. “It is fascinating to learn more about how the Mayan empires expanded, just like in the ‘Game of Thrones.'”
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The altar is the last fascinating find to shed light on the ancient Maya civilization.
The carved altar in the National Museum of Archaeology and Ethnology in Guatemala City, Wednesday, Sept. 12, 2018. (AP Photo/Oliver de Ros)
An old mask with an image of a 7th-century Maya king, for example, was recently discovered in the south of Mexico.
Earlier this year, archaeologists used advanced technology to reveal lost cities and thousands of ancient structures deep in the Guatemalan jungle, in which it is confirmed that the Mayan civilization was much larger than previously thought.
From her heart in what is now Guatemala, the Maya empire reached the peak of its power in the sixth century A. D., according to History.com although most of the civilization, cities were abandoned around 900 A. D.
The Associated Press contributed to this article.
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