ROYAL MAYAN PEN­DANT POSES ANTHROPOLOGICAL PUZ­ZLE

Focus-Science and Technology - - Discoveries -

This is bling fit for a king. A piece of carved jade jew­ellery dis­cov­ered by ar­chae­ol­o­gists in what is now cen­tral Belize has raised new ques­tions about the Mayan civil­i­sa­tion that ruled Cen­tral Amer­ica from around 2000 BC un­til the Span­ish coloni­sa­tion.

The pen­dant was un­earthed at Nim Le Pu­nit, some 40km north of the town of Punta Gorda, in 2015. Nim Le Pu­nit, which was dis­cov­ered in 1976, is known to have been a Mayan set­tle­ment be­tween 150 and 850 AD, in keep­ing with the pen­dant’s es­ti­mated cre­ation date of around 670 AD.

How­ever, it was be­lieved to be a vil­lage of rel­a­tively low im­por­tance, ly­ing on the out­skirts of the Mayan em­pire. And yet the T-shaped pen­dant clearly be­longed to a mem­ber of the royal fam­ily: not only is it exquisitely crafted from a pre­cious stone, but there are raised hi­ero­glyphs on the back which say as much. These tell us that the pen­dant was made for King Janaab’ Ohl K’inich, who as­cended to the throne in 647 AD, while in­scrip­tions on the walls of the 9th- Cen­tury tomb in which it was found show the priest-king wear­ing the pen­dant in in­cense-scat­ter­ing cer­e­monies.

So what were the king and his pen­dant do­ing in lowly, out­ly­ing Nim Le Pu­nit, and why was the pen­dant buried in a tomb at all? It’s as though an an­cient Bri­tish crown had mys­te­ri­ously sur­faced in a small fish­ing vil­lage in Devon, and ar­chae­ol­o­gists now in­tend to in­ves­ti­gate fur­ther.

The hi­ero­glyphs on the pen­dant say that it was made for the Mayan king Janaab’ Ohl K’inich

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