In northern Guatemala is a Mesoamerican archaeological site called "El Zotz." The largest temple structure at that site is called "El Diablo" and has dangerously steep sides like the temple at the nearby site of Tikal. Beneath the "El Diablo" pyramid is the 1,600-year-old tomb of a Mayan king that was discovered on May 29th. Last week, archaeologists announced the contents of that tomb:
- The body of the king, laid to rest on a now-collapsed bier in the role of a ritual dancer. He had bell-like ornaments with clappers made of dog teeth placed around his waist and legs, and he had jewels embedded in his teeth. He wore a headdress, and held a sacrificial blade that was covered with red organic residue that may be blood.
- The remains of 6 infants, one of them partially burned, which were probably sacrificed to accompany the king to the afterlife. The children range in age from 1 to 6.
- Painted ceramic bowls filled with human fingers and teeth wrapped in what may have been leaves - possibly a symbolic meal offering. The tomb held many other pieces of blood-red pottery, including a mythical head of unknown meaning (3rd image), a tamale bowl (4th image), and a lid topped with a devil (2nd image). "These items are artistic riches, extraordinarily preserved from a key time in Maya history. From the tomb’s position, time, richness, and repeated constructions atop the tomb, we believe this is very likely the founder of a dynasty," say the scientists. The contents also included jade, wood, and textiles that retain their color.