ROYAL MAYAN PENDANT POSES ANTHROPOLOGICAL PUZZLE
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