ARLINGTON - A University
of Texas at Arlington archaeologist is gaining international recognition for his
role in research that revealed the oldest known tomb of an ancient Maya ruler,
dating back to about 350 B.C.
Photo taken by John Tomasic
professor Michael Callaghan worked on a team led by research associate John
Tomasic of the University of Kansas, who found the burial site in 2008 at K’o, Guatemala.
unearthed the body of a man believed to be in his 50s and in seemingly good
health at the time of his death, along with an incense burner that had the
image of a jester god headdress on it, vessels, jars and plates.
pot had a little crown with a three-pronged headdress on it and that’s known to
be only associated with kingship,” said Callaghan, who analyzed the ceramics. “The
work was supported by radiocarbon analysis, which gave us a date of 350 B.C.”
now, the earliest known royal burial of a Maya ruler was from San Bartolo,
Guatemala. It was discovered in 2005 and dated back to 100 B.C. Both burial
sites were found beneath homes.
famed pyramid builders of Central America had an even longer-lived civilization
than suspected by scholars just a few decades ago,” Tomasic said. Long before
Mayans buried their rulers in temples, they were burying them in their houses,
beneath the floors.
added: “I think we will find more of these royal burials too, older ones, as we
look under more homes.”
presented the team’s research for the first time publicly at the 76th annual
meeting of the Society for American Archaeology. The gathering was held earlier this month
in Sacramento, Calif. Since then, news of
the research has appeared in USA Today,
the London Daily Mail and Tehran’s Cultural Heritage News Agency.
May, Callaghan will return to Guatemala with his wife, Brigitte Kovacevich, an
assistant professor of anthropology at Southern Methodist University.
plan to research more about the Maya civilization, with a focus on how social
hierarchies started and why people created social division.
called the Mayans fascinating, adding: “Growing up, we learn about Mesopotamia
and Egypt, but the Mayans are so different in the way they looked at ideology,
their religious focus and art.”
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