1,450-year-old stone monument adds new chapter to Mayan history
Washington: Archaeologists have discovered an intricately carved stone monument with hieroglyphic text, which could add a new chapter in unveiling the Mayan civilization mystery.
Tunneling beneath the main temple of the ancient Maya city of El Peru-Waka in northern Guatemala, archaeologists have discovered an intricately carved stone monument with hieroglyphic text detailing the exploits of a little-known sixth-century princess whose progeny prevailed in a bloody, back-and-forth struggle between two of the civilization`s most powerful royal dynasties, Guatemalan cultural officials announced July 16.
"Great rulers took pleasure in describing adversity as a prelude to ultimate success," research director David Freidel, PhD, a professor of anthropology in Arts and Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, said.
"Here the Snake queen, Lady Ikoom, prevailed in the end," he said.
Freidel, who is studying in Paris this summer, said the stone monument, known officially as El Peru Stela 44, offers a wealth of new information about a "dark period" in Maya history, including the names of two previously unknown Maya rulers and the political realities that shaped their legacies.
"The narrative of Stela 44 is full of twists and turns of the kind that are usually found in time of war but rarely detected in Precolumbian archaeology," Freidel said.
"The information in the text provides a new chapter in the history of the ancient kingdom of Waka` and its political relations with the most powerful kingdoms in the Classic period lowland Maya world," he said.
Carved stone monuments, such as Stela 44, have been unearthed in dozens of other important Maya ruins and each has made a critical contribution to the understanding of Maya culture.
Freidel said that his epigrapher, Stanley Guenter, who deciphered the text, believes that Stela 44 was originally dedicated about 1,450 years ago, in the calendar period ending in AD 564, by the Wak dynasty King Wa`oom Uch`ab Tzi`kin, a title that translates roughly as "He Who Stands Up the Offering of the Eagle."
After standing exposed to the elements for more than 100 years, Stela 44 was moved by order of a later king and buried as an offering inside new construction that took place at the main El Peru-Waka` temple about AD 700, probably as part of funeral rituals for a great queen entombed in the building at this time, the research team suggests.
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