Mayan ‘Game of Thrones’
A 1,500-year-old Mayan altar discovered in a small archeological site in northern Guatemala is drawing comparisons to popular fantasy drama television series Game of Thrones for its descriptions of the Kaanul dynasty’s political strategies aimed at bringing entire cities under its control.
The altar, carved out of limestone and weighing about one ton, had been found at the La Corona archeological site in the jungle region close to the borders with Mexico and Belize, Tomas Barrientos, co-director of excavations and investigations at the site, said.
Barrientos said the altar had been found in a temple and showed La Corona’s ruler, King Chak Took Ich’aak, “sitting and holding a sceptre from which emerge two patron gods of the city”.
According to studies, the 1.46mx1.2m slab contains a hieroglyphic Mayan inscription corresponding to May 12 544.
Other discoveries have al- lowed researchers to determine that the same king also governed the nearby city of El Peru-Waka some 20 years later.
Barrientos says these pieces of evidence show that the Kaanul dynasty, or Serpent Kingdom, developed a political movement in La Corona that allowed them to defeat their Tikal “archrivals” in 562 and thereafter rule the Mayan lowlands in southeast Mesoamerica for two centuries.
That political movement was based around alliances with small cities surrounding Tikal ahead of the final victory push.
Researchers also found details of a wedding between a Serpent Kingdom princess and a king of La Corona, Barrientos said.
“This altar shows us a part of Guatemala’s history and in this case, around 1,500 years ago, I would call this the historical Mayan version of Game of Thrones,” he said, comparing the Kaanul kingdom’s manoeuvring to that in Game of Thrones of noble families competing over control of the seven kingdoms.
Barrientos said the altar “fills in the gaps” and “pieces together the puzzle” of the Mayan culture’s political relationships. “[It] teaches us a lot about politics in those times and the fight for territory.”
Excavating and investigating in the remote Mayan Biosphere Reserve where La Corona lies can be hazardous, though. The region is at threat from looting, invasions and incursions by criminal gangs, drug-traffickers and illegal ranchers.
REVEALING SECRETS: The ancient Mayan altar find