Skip to comments.Micro-camera Provides First Peek Inside Mayan Tomb
Posted on 06/26/2011 7:21:15 PM PDT by SunkenCiv
A Mayan tomb closed to the world for 1,500 years has finally revealed some of its secrets as scientists snaked a tiny camera into a red-and-black painted burial chamber.
The room, decorated with paintings of nine figures, also contains pottery, jade pieces and shell, archaeologists from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) reported Thursday (June 23).
The tomb is located in Palenque, an expansive set of stone ruins in the Mexican state of Chiapas. According to the INAH, the tomb was discovered in 1999 under a building called Temple XX. But the stonework and location prevented exploration.
By threading a tiny video camera through a 6-inch by 6-inch (15 cm by 15 cm) hole above the tomb, researchers were able to glimpse for the first time the contents of the burial chamber. The room contains a sarcophagus and pottery dishes, which may have once held funerary offerings. The contents of the chamber suggest that the tomb is the resting place of a dignitary who ruled in Palenque sometime between A.D. 431 and A.D. 550.
Exploration of another Palenque tomb from the same time period suggests that the area was a royal necropolis, INAH archaeologists said. Later, Temple XX was built over the site, covering the vaulted chamber tomb with a step pyramid structure.
(Excerpt) Read more at livescience.com ...
A stepped ceiling and the thick slab gateway of the burial chamber. CREDIT: National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH)
Temple XX in the ancient Mayan city of Palenque. Under the temple is a 1,500-year-old burial chamber, unreachable except by micro-camera.
To get to the hidden tomb, researchers had to descend from the top of the temple.
A ladder leads into Temple XX, from which archaeologists threaded a video camera into the burial chamber.
A 6-inch (15 cm) by 6-inch hole leads to the unexplored burial chamber.
The first images of the inside of the 1,500-year-old burial chamber reveal red-and-black painted walls.
A mural decorating the walls of the 1,500-year-old burial chamber consists of nine characters outlined in black on red.
Murals on the tomb walls.
A stepped ceiling and the thick slab gateway of the burial chamber.
Pottery, jade and shell sit on the burial chamber floor. Archaeologists believe the burial chamber holds the fragmented bones of a ruler from around 431 to 550 AD.
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Cool! I guess the difference in quality of the murals vs. what is visible in Egyptian tombs is the difference between a humid and arid climate?
...and there was much wailing...and gnashing of teeth...
I know that temple!
Did they find a calendar that “starts” in 2012 ?
Aka page two.....:o)
Man - it looks like a set from Saw.
Ping for later.
I agree. The Mayas were a pretty bloodthirsty lot and so were their gods so the copius use here is not very surprising IMO.
In most cultures the color red used in relation to funerary rites and items is related to blood and/or their vision of life and death.
The Mayans and Aztecs would laugh their way through “Saw”, and think everyone involved in the script and cast were wussies.
I always secretly figured that was Steve Jobs’ inspiration for the product name.
That’s part of it. Also, the Egyptian sites sometimes appear to be bare stone, but their ancient appearance was characterized by bright colors, since flaked off. The water table has had an impact on subterranean sites (most tombs in Egypt are below ground), and in the case of the pyramids, moisture wicks up. And the Aswan High Dam has caused the water table to rise, and salts to leach up from below, damaging (and eventually will destroy) even carved surfaces.
Thanks for the post. Bump for reference.
They certainly left the place looking a mess...!
Ever since the writing system was cracked in the 1980s, the archaeology has taken off in Central America. There’s more funding from the local gov’ts and from US colleges and universities, ditto for Europeans. There were litanies of site destruction in the previous decades, but there is literally too much to dig now, thanks to the funding and of course remote sensing. The prevalence of large sites wasn’t understood, mainly because they didn’t all have those really tall structures to spot.
Yeah, they probably fired the maid or something. Another good reason for using arthroscopic and robotic techniques for exploring these sites is, the Mayans also used a contact poison (the name escapes me for the moment), such that some of the stuff that’s “painted” red will actually kill you in a short time after you, say, steady yourself by placing your hand against a wall. :’) Take that, Doctor Jones.
It’s cinnabar. Oh, and it’s not quite so deadly as that. A good handwashing will generally save ya. ;’) Unless you’ve got a cut on your hand, then it could be bad.
Looks creepy; bet it’s haunted!
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