A new artifact found in Belize could change everything we know about the Ancient Maya
The jewel, which belonged to an ancient Mayan king, contains a historical text that is now being deciphered by researchers. Researchers say it could change everything we know about the ancient Maya civilization.
Geoffrey Braswell, an archeologist at the University of California, San Diego, discovered the precious artifact in 2015 at the Nim Li Punit site in Belartifactartrifact was discovered as experts were excavating an ancient palace built around the year 400.
Inside a tomb, which is believed to date back to around AD 800, archeologists found around 25 pottery vessels, and a large stone that was intricately shaped to mimic a deity, and the jade pectoral.
Experts did not discover human remains.
The curious artifact has a T carved on its front, which is the Mayan glyph „IK“, which stands for ‘wind and breath’ according to experts.
According to an article published by the researcher, the jade pendant belonged to an ancient Mayan king, the artifact is the second largest piece of that culture found in Belize to date. The T-shaped pendant was unearthed two years ago was worn by an ancient Mayan king during key religious ceremonies. It measures 18 centimeters wide, 10 centimeters high and has a thickness of 0.7 centimeters.
“It was like finding the Hope Diamond in Peoria instead of New York,” said Braswell, who led the dig. “We would expect something like it in one of the big cities of the Maya world. Instead, here it was, far from the center,” he said.
Braswell explained that the artifact stands out as the only one containing a historical text: on the back of the artifact are 30 carved hieroglyphs that speak about its first owner. “It literally speaks to us. The story it tells is a short but important one,” says the researcher, who adds that it can even change what we know about the Maya.
Braswell explained that the pendant was ‘not torn out of history by looters.
“To find it on a legal expedition, in context, gives us information about the site and the jewel that we couldn’t have otherwise had or maybe even imagined.”
According to researchers, the pendent was buried in the year 800, but not with its owner. According to Braswell, this may have been because ‘it had immense power and magic,’ and may have been buried as a dedication to the wind god.
Braswell explains that during this time, the ancient Maya kingdoms started collapsing across Belize and Guatemala, which led to the abandonment of Nim Li Punit.
“A recent theory is that climate change caused droughts that led to the widespread failure of agriculture and the collapse of Maya civilization. The dedication of this tomb at that time of crisis to the wind god who brings the annual rains lends support to this theory, and should remind us all about the danger of climate change,” Braswell said.
It is believed that the pendant was crafted for King Janaab’ Ohl K’inich.
According to experts, the pendant describes the parentage of King Janaab’ Ohl K’inich. The inscription suggests his mother originated from Cahal Pech, and that his father died before age 20, and originated from a place in Guatemala.
Experts say that the text also describes the accession rites of the king in the years 647, and ends with a text that link’s the king to the ancient Maya city of Caracol in modern-day Belize.
More importantly, researchers suggest that the king may have moved to Nim Li Punit, or even that a great Mayan state was trying to ally with the provinces by representing the Jewel to the local king, which would explain how the pendant got to where it was discovered.
Experts say that the writings are evidence of previously unknown ties.
“We didn’t think we’d find royal, political connections to the north and west of Nim Li Punit,”Braswell said.
“We thought if there were any at all that they’d be to the south and east.”