Mayan Discovery Reveals Turmoil

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A stone slab dated 564 A.D., which tells a story of a struggle between Royalty in the Mayan Empire has been discovered.  It reveals the turmoil of an ancient power struggle lasting for seven years.

Archaeologists are calling it a “dark period.”  The slab was found beneath the main temple of El Peru-Waka’, an ancient Maya city in northern Guatemala.  The hieroglyphics tell the story of a princess whose family survived a struggle between two royal dynasties.  The slab reveals that the battles were often extremely bloody.

David Freidel, PhD, a professor of anthropology in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL), said “great rulers took pleasure in describing adversity as a prelude to ultimate success.” In this case, Lady Ikoom, known as the Snake queen, “prevailed in the end.”

The slab also revealed the names of two rulers who were previously unknown.

The kingdom of the Mayans flourished for nearly 600 years, and then they seem to have disappeared around 900 A.D.  Among the Mayans many accomplishments was the construction of the massive city of Tikal, developing a hieroglyphic writing system, and a calendar, which famously ended in 2012.  Very little of their writings remain, because they were mostly on paper instead of stone.

The six-foot by three-foot slab was found in a small passageway underneath the temple.  Much of the front of it was worn away.  It was exposed to the elements for nearly a century before it was moved underground about 700 A.D.  It is called ‘Stela 44.’

“The analysis of the glyphs suggests Stela 44 was commissioned by King Wa’oom Uch’ab Tzi’kin in honor of his father, King Chak Took Ich’aak (translated as Red Spark Claw), who had died in AD 556. This is the first time these names have been spoken in modern history, making them new to the science,” according to the researchers.  The slab tells the following story:

“We infer that sometime in the course of his reign King Chak Took Ich’aak changed sides and became a Snake dynasty vassal,” Freidel said. “But then, when he died and his son and heir came to power, he did so under the auspices of a foreign king who, Guenter argues from details, is the reigning king of Tikal. So Tikal had reasserted command of Waka’ and somehow Queen Ikoom survived this imposition.”

“Then, in a dramatic shift in the tides of war, that same Tikal King, Wak Chan K’awiil, was defeated and sacrificed by the Snake king in AD 562. Finally, two years after that major reversal, the new king and his mother raised Stela 44, giving the whole story as outlined above,” explained Freidel.

Although much of the Mayan history continues to be hidden from researchers, stela 44 reveals a tumultuous period never before revealed to archaeologists.

Alfred James reporting

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