The 1,600-year-old tomb was discovered on May 29 beneath the El Diablo pyramid in the city of El Zotz. It is packed with of carvings, ceramics, textiles, and the bones of six children, who might have been sacrificed at the time of the king’s death.
However, much more work is needed before the scientists can piece together all the clues about the tomb’s owner.
“We still have a great deal of work to do,” said Stephen Houston an archaeologist at Brown University in Rhode Island. “We’ve only been out of the field for a few weeks, and we’re still catching our breath after a very difficult, technical excavation. Royal tombs are hugely dense with information and require years of study to understand.”
Before making the actual discovery, Houston said the team thought “something odd” was happening in the deposit where they were digging. They knew a small temple had been built in front of a sprawling structure dedicated to the sun god, an emblem of Maya rulership.
“When we sunk a pit into the small chamber of the temple, we hit almost immediately a series of ‘caches’ — blood-red bowls containing human fingers and teeth, all wrapped in some kind of organic substance that left an impression in the plaster. We then dug through layer after layer of flat stones, alternating with mud, which probably is what kept the tomb so intact and airtight.”
Eventually the scientists unearthed the final layer to reveal a small hole.