1,200-year-old skeletons reveal war-like ending to Maya civilisation
The team spent the summer excavating ruins of the ancient city of Cancuen in central Guatemala and dug up at least 45 skeletons belonging to members of the Mayan royal court who appear to have been ritually slaughtered by an as-yet unknown horde of assailants.
Among the bones were those of the Mayan king Kan Maax and his wife, identified by their jewellery, headdresses and other precious artefacts. At least a dozen others showed signs of having been ritually dismembered and thrown into sacred spring waters - presumably as a way of wiping out both the leadership of Cancuen and the city itself.
Many of them appear to have died as a result of sharp spear jabs to the throat, suggesting summary execution on a grand scale. The attackers also chipped the faces of statues and religious monuments.
The ruins of Cancuen were discovered more than a century ago, but their significance as a possible centre of the Maya civilisation only became apparent five years ago, when a vast palace complex was found.
Scholars have long debated how, and how quickly, the Maya civilisation came to an end. The evidence unearthed by the archaeological team, led by a scholar from Vanderbilt University in Tennessee and funded by the National Geographic Society and the National Endowment for the Humanities, makes the strongest case yet the collapse was the result of a vicious war.
comments powered by Disqus
- 150 years later, schools are still a battlefield for interpreting Civil War
- Where are America's memorials to pain of slavery, black resistance?
- Richmond split over Confederate history
- The World's Jewish Population Is Nearing Pre-Holocaust Levels
- Bernie Sanders’s Revolutionary Roots Were Nurtured in ’60s Vermont
- Did a historian who said he’s a victim of McCarthyism get the story wrong?
- Stephanie Coontz’s work on the history of marriage cited by the Supreme Court.
- NYT History Book Reviews: Who Got Noticed this Week?
- David Hackett Fischer wins $100,000 prize for lifetime achievement in military writing