Archaeologists have uncovered what may be the largest royal tomb found in more than a century of work on Maya ruins in Belize, along with a puzzling set of hieroglyphic panels that provide clues to a “ snake dynasty” that conquered many of its neighbors some 1,300 years ago.
Maya kings were the centers of power for the Maya civilization. Each Maya city-state was controlled by a dynasty of kings . The position of king was usually inherited by the oldest son.
Calakmul is a modern name; according to Cyrus L. Lundell, who named the site, In Maya, ca means “two”, lak means “adjacent”, and mul signifies any artificial mound or pyramid, so Calakmul is the “City of the Two Adjacent Pyramids”. In ancient times the city core was known as Ox Te’ Tuun, meaning “Three Stones”.
While the city and the sister centers of the Mirador Basin thrived between 300 BCE and the Common Era (CE), apparently, the site was abandoned, as were nearly all other major sites in the area, by about 150 CE.
After assembling a record-setting 154 radiocarbon dates, the researchers have been able to develop a highly precise chronology that illuminates the patterns that led up to the two collapses that the Maya civilization experienced: the Preclassic collapse, in the second century A.D., and the more well-known Classic
The Maya had a system of serfdom and slavery . Serfs typically worked lands that belonged to the ruler or local town leader. There was an active slave trade in the Maya region, and commoners and elites were both permitted to own slaves .
Blood was viewed as a potent source of nourishment for the Maya deities, and the sacrifice of a living creature was a powerful blood offering. By extension, the sacrifice of a human life was the ultimate offering of blood to the gods, and the most important Maya rituals culminated in human sacrifice .
K’inich Janaab Pakal
Mysterious Decline of the Maya From the late eighth through the end of the ninth century, something unknown happened to shake the Maya civilization to its foundations. One by one, the Classic cities in the southern lowlands were abandoned, and by A.D. 900, Maya civilization in that region had collapsed.
Built more than 2,000 years ago— long before archaeologists believed such a place could exist at that era in Maya history— El Mirador was a busy metropolis covering six square miles, home to tens of thousands of people, and filled with grand buildings and plazas. It’s now thought to be the cradle of Maya civilization.
Getting to El Mirador is difficult. In 2002, the Guatemalan government established the Mirador Basin National Monument a Special Archaeological Zone, which means that there are no legal roads for regular vehicles. Instead, visitors must take five-day hike; it’s worth hiring a couple of mules to carry supplies.