Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

Skip to comments.

Bowls of Fingers, Baby Victims, More Found in Maya Tomb
National Geographic ^ | 7-21-2010 | John Roach

Posted on 09/25/2011 6:27:22 AM PDT by Renfield

Reeking of decay and packed with bowls of human fingers, a partly burned baby, and gem-studded teeth—among other artifacts—a newfound Maya king's tomb sounds like an overripe episode of Tales From the Crypt.

But the tightly sealed, 1,600-year-old burial chamber, found under a jungle-covered Guatemalan pyramid, is as rich with archaeological gold as it is with oddities, say researchers who announced the discovery Friday.

"This thing was like Fort Knox," said Brown University archaeologist Stephen Houston, who led the excavation in the ancient, overgrown Maya town of El Zotz.

Alternating layers of flat stones and mud preserved human bones, wood carvings, textiles, and other organic material to a surprising degree—offering a rare opportunity to advance Maya archaeology, experts say.

"Since [the artifacts] appear in a royal tomb, they may provide direct insights in the political economy of the divine kings that likely involved tribute and gifts," Vanderbilt University anthropologist Markus Eberl, who was not involved in the project, said via email.

Excavation leader Houston added, "we're looking at a glimpse of lost art forms."

Fingers, Teeth, and a Taste of Things to Come

The researchers found grisly deposits even before they reached the Maya tomb.

Almost every layer of mud above the tomb contained blood-red pottery filled with human fingers and teeth wrapped in decayed organic material—perhaps leaves.

The fingers and teeth were "perhaps a kind of food or symbolic meal offering," Houston speculated. "Sacred breads in [Mexico's] Yucatán are wrapped in such materials today."

In another bowl above the circa A.D. 350 to 400 tomb, the team found a partly burned baby. The bowls closest to the burial chamber were arranged like the Maya cosmos—the four cardinal compass points plus the center of world.

(Related: "Ancient Maya Royal Tomb Discovered in Guatemala.")

Dancing King and Child Sacrifices

"The chill of the morgue" and "a faint odor of decay" tempered the euphoria of the find when the team finally entered the tomb itself on May 29, Houston said.

Breaking though a side wall of the small tomb, excavators uncovered the remains of six children—a rarity among Maya burials. Nearby was an obsidian blade covered in a red residue that "may be blood," Houston said.

The arrangement suggests the children, some of them infants, may have been ritually sacrificed as the king was laid to rest. (Read about Maya rituals of sacrifice and worship.)

Why the children would have been killed is a mystery, said team member Andrew Scherer, a Brown University anthropologist.

But the youth of the victims hints that their value as sacrifices may have lain in their being, to Maya eyes, on the verge of personhood, Scherer said.

Dig leader Houston added, "[The fact] that at least four appear not to have been able yet fully to speak or walk may put them at that threshold of human existence."

The role of the king in his own burial may be slightly clearer.

The team found bell-like ornaments made of shells and "clappers" made of dog teeth, which were likely placed around the king's waist and legs, Houston said.

The same accessories are seen on performers in a ritual dance depicted in Maya art, suggesting that the king may have been "cast" as a dancer in the ceremony leading to his interment—despite the arthritic joints that give away his apparently advanced age.

(Take a Maya quiz.)

Turtle King Tomb a "Gold Mine"

His teeth embedded with jewels, the buried king, Houston suspects, was the founder of a dynasty at El Zotz, in what's now the Petén region (satellite map) of Guatemala.

According to the partially deciphered hieroglyphics on the tomb walls, his name translates to perhaps Red Turtle or Great Turtle. More information about him may be gleaned from further study of hieroglyphics from the tomb, Houston said.

A small state with no more than a few thousand people, El Zotz lay to the west of Tikal, once among the biggest and most powerful Maya centers (interactive map of the Maya Empire).

The neighboring settlements, though, probably weren't best of friends. El Zotz was likely "supported by the enemies of Tikal in a way to keep a check on Tikal's territorial ambitions," Houston said.

More details on the nature of that relationship—and on El Zotz and Maya life in general—may await decoding in the turtle king's tomb. The excavation team's next steps include residue analysis as well as continued analysis, and reconstruction, of the tomb's textiles and other artifacts.

"This," Houston said, "could be a veritable gold mine of information."


TOPICS: History; Science
KEYWORDS: archaeology; godsgravesglyphs; maya; mayans
Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-60 next last
From last year, but I searched and didn't find this article on FR.
1 posted on 09/25/2011 6:27:25 AM PDT by Renfield
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: SunkenCiv

Maya ping


2 posted on 09/25/2011 6:27:59 AM PDT by Renfield (Turning apples into venison since 1999!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Renfield

In before the El Zotz!


3 posted on 09/25/2011 6:32:27 AM PDT by Mmogamer (I refudiate the lamestream media, leftists and their prevaricutions.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 2 | View Replies]

To: Renfield

Ping for after church


4 posted on 09/25/2011 6:39:09 AM PDT by Beckett08 ("My Jihad means 'My Struggle' So does "Mein Kampf.")
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Mmogamer

The final abode of the Zotted. EL ZOTZ!


5 posted on 09/25/2011 6:40:14 AM PDT by ecomcon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: Renfield

The indigenous do love their bling.


6 posted on 09/25/2011 6:41:59 AM PDT by Tijeras_Slim
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Renfield
Three cheers for "cultural diversity"!

Wonder if the current residents are at all thankful for the gift of the European invasion? Certainly the owners of the fingers and teeth and the parents of those infants would have wished that they arrived earlier...

7 posted on 09/25/2011 6:47:21 AM PDT by Chainmail
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Renfield

Teeth bling is hardly a lost art. That's a 150K grill Lil Wayne is flashing. And they say you can't take it with you.

8 posted on 09/25/2011 6:51:01 AM PDT by bgill (There, happy now?)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Renfield
I always find it amazing people buy into the 2012 Maya calendar devised by a people who saciface babies,pull beating hearts out of live people, ritual killing by the thousands

I don't get it

9 posted on 09/25/2011 6:51:30 AM PDT by Popman (Obama is God's curse upon the land....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Renfield
It clearly presages the coming of the internet ~ finger bones ~ all that's left of a myriad of devotees; young babies who were cut down before they could live "off net", and worse ZOTZ!

Great Turtle? I have this Apple Mouse and doggone if it doesn't look like a turtle ~

Is this a real article?

10 posted on 09/25/2011 6:52:35 AM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Chainmail

Probably they don’t.
The European invasion wiped out 97 percent of the population.


11 posted on 09/25/2011 6:53:42 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Chainmail
Three cheers for "cultural diversity"!

...note the not so subtle excuses made for the child sacrifices: the children couldn't speak yet, so they were not yet considered human...

12 posted on 09/25/2011 7:03:19 AM PDT by ghost of nixon
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 7 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks
Ah yes - And some of the diseases they had got back to Europe too.

Nonetheless, the human sacrifice incidence dropped a bit, post-invasion.

13 posted on 09/25/2011 7:13:53 AM PDT by Chainmail
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Renfield

Sounds like Mel Gibson got it right in ‘Apocalypto’, or perhaps didn’t go far enough. The “Aztlan” racists are always telling us how the Mayan civilization was peaceful, worshipped the stars in harmony, etc. B.S.


14 posted on 09/25/2011 7:19:18 AM PDT by montag813 (http://www.StandWithArizona.com)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Chainmail
According to some historians, syphilis was the New World's gift to Europe, in return for small pox, influenza and measles, among others.
15 posted on 09/25/2011 7:22:24 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 13 | View Replies]

To: Mmogamer

LOL!!!!!!


16 posted on 09/25/2011 7:27:49 AM PDT by Lockbar (March toward the sound of the guns.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 3 | View Replies]

To: montag813

I don’t think there’s been a book in the last 50 years still pushing the old “Mayans were ruled by astronomer kings”


17 posted on 09/25/2011 7:41:04 AM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks
The Americas had had a problem with hanta virus for thousands of years. That's what killed off the Indians AND delayed European invasion and settlement for a good century and a half after Columbus' voyages.

In what is now the East Coast of the United States, for example, the Indians OUTNUMBERED the newcomers until about 1648 ~ that's when a particularly bad winter combined with a slightly higher than normal incidence of several communicable diseases (probably could add in the flu to the situation), boosted the death rate among Indians and Europeans right through the roof.

The big difference between the two groups wasn't natural resistance ~ it was far simpler ~ Europeans could ship in an indefinite resupply of human beings, which they promptly did.

There are a number of good books on the market that cover the American population catastrophe of the 16th and 17th centuries.

18 posted on 09/25/2011 7:48:55 AM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah
Mann, the historian, says the big difference was the lack of resistance. Only a comparative handful of Europeans arrived between 1519 and 1623. The indigenous population dropped from about 25 million to about 700,000 in about 100 years, a 97 percent reduction.
Hantavirius was called “Cocolitli” by central Americans. Small pox was the chief killer and is described unmistakably in 16th century drawings.
19 posted on 09/25/2011 8:12:13 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 18 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah

“the coming of the internet ~ finger bones”

All digital!”


20 posted on 09/25/2011 8:20:28 AM PDT by Dr. Bogus Pachysandra ( Ya can't pick up a turd by the clean end!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 10 | View Replies]

To: Renfield

21 posted on 09/25/2011 8:28:47 AM PDT by Diogenesis ("Freedom is never more than one generation away from extinction. " Pres. Ronald Reagan)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks
"Resistance" is only a small part of the equation. The English colony at Jamestown suffered about 60,000 deaths in its first 20 years (one of the reasons they relocated to Williamsburg).

Given the number of new arrivals that was a death rate to equal the worst Indian death rates.

Recall, at the time of initial settlement (1609) Virginia was just now at the end of nearly half a century of semi-arid conditions within which was a 17 year drought sufficient to have driven EVERYONE to live above the Fall Line. Those conductions always presage a major hanta virus outbreak once the drought breaks and the grasslands return.

Other historians have noted a similar period up the coast in the decade prior to the 1646-48 die-offs.

It was not the case that white folks just stood around and watched Indians died. Everybody died. The whites had backup resources in Europe. The Indians didn't.

Mann's estimate of 25 million is far too low. The agricultural base extant in the Americas at the time of first contact was far too large for such a small population.

Even if the Indians had had superior technology and were discovering Europe and Africa, they'd still died off in the Americas ~ as they had been doing for thousands of years.

22 posted on 09/25/2011 8:29:46 AM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 19 | View Replies]

To: montag813

Apocalypto was my first thought when I read the article. What Mel Gibson did in that movie is brilliant, and the way he marketed it was really sly. He sold it with the insinuation that its message is about anti-imperialism. This was during the whole Iraq war hubbub. But then, at the very end, in literally the last scene, the movie delivers its real payload when the Spanish galleons are seen pulling up to shore — and the thought that you can’t help but think is “It’s going to be okay, Western Civilization has arrived”.


23 posted on 09/25/2011 8:35:36 AM PDT by Yardstick
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 14 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah
I don’t think there’s been a book in the last 50 years still pushing the old “Mayans were ruled by astronomer kings”

There are videos of MEChA Hispanics who want to establish "Aztlan" in the U.S. "occupied" Southwest. They compare the Mayans to the Ancient Greeks and claim that we derived all our knowledge from them.

24 posted on 09/25/2011 8:46:03 AM PDT by montag813
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 17 | View Replies]

To: muawiyah

There are some history writers who would agree; 25 million is probably on the low side. I agree, climate changes moved or wiped out large numbers.

If these estimates are correct, central and south America had a larger and healthier population than most of Europe.

It would be interesting to see a graph showing the European and native populations from 1510-1800.


25 posted on 09/25/2011 8:55:54 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Renfield; SunkenCiv

When practicing ritual child sacrifice and cannibalism, it’s always good etiquitte to use a finger bowl.


26 posted on 09/25/2011 9:04:24 AM PDT by wildbill (You're just jealous because the Voices talk only to me.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Renfield

Why do archeologists always try to bend old civilizations into modern times? “The children did not reach personhood” Is this another way of saying very late term abortion? Maybe the Mayans had great respect for children and it was the highest form of sacrifice to the gods. Think of the slaughtered calf. If they had no respect for children would it not have been like offering leftovers to the gods?


27 posted on 09/25/2011 9:06:33 AM PDT by shoff (Cuomo is going to change the NY state motto from Excelsior to elixir (cause we bought it)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks

There is an interesting book, “1491 New Revelations of the Americas before Columbus” by Charles C. Mann, which discusses the pre-Columbian populations in considerable detail.


28 posted on 09/25/2011 9:15:58 AM PDT by Hiddigeigei ("Talk sense to a fool and he calls you foolish," said Dionysus - Euripides)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 25 | View Replies]

To: Renfield
Reeking of decay and packed with bowls of human fingers, a partly burned baby, and gem-studded teeth—among other artifacts—a newfound Maya king's tomb sounds like an overripe episode of Tales From the Crypt.

A Democratic Party Fund Raiser.

29 posted on 09/25/2011 9:27:36 AM PDT by Grizzled Bear (No More RINOs!!!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Hiddigeigei

I’m reading it now.
Finished “1493” about a month ago.


30 posted on 09/25/2011 9:29:07 AM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 28 | View Replies]

To: Renfield
A primitive, evil people.

Still, much of their base culture survives in meso-America. We see it in beheadings along the border.

Blood lust.

31 posted on 09/25/2011 10:06:15 AM PDT by Mariner (War Criminal #18)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: montag813

The Ancient Greeks were pretty brutal.


32 posted on 09/25/2011 10:15:25 AM PDT by muawiyah
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 24 | View Replies]

To: bgill
And they say you can't take it with you.

You can, if the guy at the morgue doesn't pry it out and tell the police it was missing when he came in...

Grave robbing is an old profession, and once the box is closed, who's gonna know? (Not sanctioning it, just saying...)

33 posted on 09/25/2011 10:21:08 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 8 | View Replies]

To: Mariner
Still, much of their base culture survives in meso-America. We see it in beheadings along the border.

Heads on pikes, drawing and quartering, impalement, crucifixion along the Apian Way...such are the tools of terror which can keep a resistant population cowering in their hovels rather than fighting in the streets. No one wants to end up like that, so they tend to be quiet--until the killing gets out of hand.

How many political adversaries (and their entire clans) have been sold into slavery or slaughtered, only to have the reason painted as a sacrifice to some God or otherwise whitewashed?

34 posted on 09/25/2011 10:29:53 AM PDT by Smokin' Joe (How often God must weep at humans' folly. Stand fast. God knows what He is doing.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 31 | View Replies]

To: Renfield
"This thing was like Fort Knox," said Brown University archaeologist Stephen Houston

No gold was found when opened?

35 posted on 09/25/2011 10:30:07 AM PDT by Moltke (Always retaliate first.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ghost of nixon
...note the not so subtle excuses made for the child sacrifices: the children couldn't speak yet, so they were not yet considered human...

Dig leader Houston added, "[The fact] that at least four appear not to have been able yet fully to speak or walk may put them at that threshold of human existence."

Professor Peter Singer, pick up the white discourtesy phone...

36 posted on 09/25/2011 10:47:34 AM PDT by grey_whiskers (The opinions are solely those of the author and are subject to change without notice.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Popman
"I always find it amazing people buy into the 2012 Maya calendar devised by a people who saciface babies,pull beating hearts out of live people, ritual killing by the thousands I don't get it."

You and me both. I thought of that all the way through the article.

37 posted on 09/25/2011 12:23:56 PM PDT by redhead (Don't START with me...you know how I get.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 9 | View Replies]

To: redhead
I always, always when confronted by someone who starts babbling about the end of the world in 2012 based on the Mayan calendar I say....

"You are going to believe people who know when the world was going to end are the same people who ate still beating hearts ripped out of their captured conquests, sacrificed thousands of people by throwing them down the stairs of their temples, sacrificed infants to their sun god, had no technology, no written language, were basically savages and you are concerned they know when it all is going to end"

"Okey Dokey....it's a free world..."

38 posted on 09/25/2011 1:49:16 PM PDT by Popman (Obama is God's curse upon the land....)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 37 | View Replies]

To: Renfield

Two pieces of flamebait:

“Too bad that noble civilization was overrun by the eeeeeeeeeeeeevil white Spaniards.”

“So...were they the Jaredites? or the Lamanites? or some other ancient Jooooooooooooooooooos?”


39 posted on 09/25/2011 2:07:16 PM PDT by ExGeeEye (I have been called intolerant. It's true. I refuse to tolerate the intolerable.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ExGeeEye

For years, Western historians thought they were the “Lost Tribes” of Israel.


40 posted on 09/25/2011 3:08:33 PM PDT by Eric in the Ozarks
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 39 | View Replies]

To: Renfield; wildbill; Perdogg; csvset; StayAt HomeMother; Ernest_at_the_Beach; 1010RD; 21twelve; ...

 GGG managers are SunkenCiv, StayAt HomeMother & Ernest_at_the_Beach
Thanks Renfield, wildbill, Perdogg, and csvset. To all -- please ping me to other topics which are appropriate for the GGG list.


41 posted on 09/25/2011 7:30:05 PM PDT by SunkenCiv (It's never a bad time to FReep this link -- https://secure.freerepublic.com/donate/)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | View Replies]

To: muawiyah

As I recall from reading early accounts, settlers in Jamestown Virginia suffered a lot from malaria and typhoid fever. http://www.u-s-history.com/pages/h519.html


42 posted on 09/25/2011 8:11:56 PM PDT by marsh2
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 22 | View Replies]

To: Renfield; SunkenCiv
I always knew there was more truth to this story than was ever admitted.

Explains the bowls of the fingers: they belonged to previous holders of the Power of Zotz!

43 posted on 09/25/2011 8:19:55 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch ("Public service" does NOT mean servicing the people, like a bull among heifers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks
The European invasion wiped out 97 percent of the population.

You shouldn't blindly accept Leftist poopaganda. It was only 92% at most.

44 posted on 09/25/2011 8:27:08 PM PDT by ApplegateRanch ("Public service" does NOT mean servicing the people, like a bull among heifers.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Renfield; All

Interesting rare kitty from site:

http://video.nationalgeographic.com/video/player/news/animals-news/african-golden-cat-vin.html


45 posted on 09/25/2011 8:37:31 PM PDT by patriot08 (TEXAS GAL- born and bred and proud of it!)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: ghost of nixon
...note the not so subtle excuses made for the child sacrifices: the children couldn't speak yet, so they were not yet considered human...

Sounds just like the up and coming (if they have it their way, which they will for a short while at the end) vastly demented liberal culture of today.

46 posted on 09/25/2011 9:02:03 PM PDT by Bellflower (When the word "holy" is used it must be used with respect and reverence for The LORD.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 12 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks
The European invasion wiped out 97 percent of the population.

You have to wonder what kind of revulsion they witnessed to cause them to want to wipe most all of them out. They should have, morally before The LORD, witnessed Jesus Christ to them but they seemed like they were propelled by seeing a culture that was so utterly depraved and wickedly blood thirsty that they lost control of their senses and wanted nothing more than to rid the earth of them as quickly as they could.

Others may believe that they had largely different motives but my gut reaction tells me that they couldn't mentally cope with what they witnessed about how the people lived, and how they were ritualistically murdered.

47 posted on 09/25/2011 9:10:14 PM PDT by Bellflower (When the word "holy" is used it must be used with respect and reverence for The LORD.)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 11 | View Replies]

To: Renfield

Ping...


48 posted on 09/25/2011 9:37:20 PM PDT by GGpaX4DumpedTea (I am a tea party descendant - steeped in the Constitutional legacy handed down by the Founders)
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Renfield; Tijeras_Slim

49 posted on 09/25/2011 9:47:37 PM PDT by Charles Henrickson
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 1 | View Replies]

To: Eric in the Ozarks

Ah, cultural exchange!


50 posted on 09/25/2011 9:49:07 PM PDT by MetaThought
[ Post Reply | Private Reply | To 15 | View Replies]


Navigation: use the links below to view more comments.
first 1-5051-60 next last

Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.

Free Republic
Browse · Search
General/Chat
Topics · Post Article

FreeRepublic, LLC, PO BOX 9771, FRESNO, CA 93794
FreeRepublic.com is powered by software copyright 2000-2008 John Robinson