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1,450 Year-Old Monument Revealing Dark Period of Mayan History Found in El Peru-Waka in Guatemala

By Julie S | Jul 18, 2013 08:31 AM EDT

1,450 Year-Old Monument Revealing Dark Period of Mayan History Found in El Peru-Waka in Guatemala
Guatemalan Cultural officials stated that archaeologists from Guatemala and United states burrowing under the main temple of the prehistoric Maya city of El Perú-Waka’ in northern Guatemala have revealed an intricately carved stone monument with hieroglyphic text. The carvings tell the abuse of a little-known sixth-century princess, their own version of Cleopatra, whose offspring triumphed in a bloody, continuous struggle between two of the civilization’s most influential royal empires. (Photo : Francisco Castañeda / El Peru Regional Archaeological Project)

Guatemalan Cultural officials stated that archaeologists from Guatemala and United states burrowing under the main temple of the prehistoric Maya city of El Perú-Waka’ in northern Guatemala have revealed an intricately carved stone monument with hieroglyphic text. The carvings tell the abuse of a little-known sixth-century princess, their own version of Cleopatra, whose offspring triumphed in a bloody, continuous struggle between two of the civilization’s most influential royal empires.

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According to research director Dr. David Freidel, an anthropology professor in Arts & Sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, “Great rulers took pleasure in describing adversity as a prelude to ultimate success. Here, the snake queen, Lady Ikoom, prevailed in the end.”

Dr. Freidel, who studies in Paris this summer, added that the stone monument, also officially known as El Perú Stela 44, offers rich new information about the ‘dark period’ in the history of Maya, which includes the two ancient unknown Maya rulers and the political properties that shaped their heritage.

 “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. 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.”, Freidel wrote in the report.

The carved stone monuments, like Stela 44, have been discovered in dozens of other significant Maya ruins and each has made a noteworthy contribution to the understanding of Maya culture.

Stanley Guenter, Freidel’s epigrapher, who interpreted the text, believes that Stela 44 was created about 1,450 years ago, in the calendar period ending in 564 A.D, by the Wak dynasty King Wa’oom Uch’ab Tzi’kin, a title that roughly means “He Who Stands Up the Offering of the Eagle.”

Stela 44 was ordered to be moved by a later king after 100 years of standing exposed to the elements. It was buried as an offering inside a new construction at the Perú-Waka’ temple about A.D. 700, most likely as part of funeral sacrament for a great queen entombed in the building at this time, the research team suggests.

The discovery was first published in a news release by the Washington University in St. Louis.

A lot is yet to be discovered to fully understand the Maya culture. This is just one of the things that will help us better comprehend and learn our history.

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