A team of archaeologists have discovered the tomb of Lady K’abel, a Mayan queen who lived around the seventh century.
The team–led by Olivia Navarro-Farr from the College of Wooster in Ohio–made the find while they were examining shrines and altars in a temple structure that was being excavated in June. The find is an extraordinary one for the team, as it provides an opportunity to explore the roles Mayan women played in their society.
“Lady K’abel was considered the greatest ruler of Waka’ during the Late Classic period,” Navarro-Farr said in a statement. “She ruled with her husband, K’inich Bahlam, for at least 20 years (672-692 AD). She was the military governor of the Wak kingdom for her family, the imperial house of the Snake King, and she carried the title ‘Kaloomte,’ which translates to ‘Supreme Warrior’ — higher in stature and authority than even her husband, the king. The significance of this woman’s powerful role as a ‘Kaloomte,’ a title rarely associated with Maya women, provides tremendous insight on the nexus of gender and power in Classic Maya politics.”
A small alabaster jar was found in the tomb, its markings consistent with those the team associate with Lady K’abel. Now, Navarro-Farr says, they have a large piece of the puzzle surrounding the temple and why it was so revered by the Mayan people.
Image: Washington University In St. Louis
“We’ve been at the site for a number of years,” she said. “Our objective was to define architecture, and establish a tighter chronology. We were hoping this season’s research would address our question of why this building received so much ritual attention throughout its final occupation.”