Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) have found an anthropomorphic statue depicting a Maya death deity from the Early Classic Period (AD 200-600)
The discovery was made during construction works of Section 7 of the Maya Train near the village of Conhuas in the Mexican state of Campeche. Conhuas is situated in close proximity to the ruins of Balamku, a Maya temple complex which contains one of the largest surviving stucco friezes from the Maya world.
The statue is sculptured from limestone and may depict Cizin, also spelled Kisin, the Maya god of death, whose name is believed to mean “Stinking One.” According to Lacandon myth, when a person dies, Cizin burns the soul on his mouth and his anus until the soul disintegrates into nothing.
The statue measures 25 centimetres in height and shows the deity with an erect tabular cranial modification in a seated position wearing a nose ring and mask. “It is a figure with stark features that appeals to mortuary motifs and would be linked to a deity of death,” said the head of the INAH.
Excavations of Section 7 on the Maya Train project, a 1,525-kilometre intercity railway that will traverse the Yucatán Peninsula, have also revealed 21,960 immovable sites that will be protected, in addition to 72,480 ceramic potsherds, 64 human burials, and 227 natural features associated with human occupation.
In April 2023, INAH archaeologists also announced the discovery of a statue of Kʼawiil during excavations of Section 7. Kʼawiil was the Maya lightning god also associated with serpents, fertility, and maize. Although depictions of Kʼawiil can be found in Maya reliefs and the Dresden and Maya codices of Mexico, only three statues of Kʼawiil have been previously discovered, all of which come from the city of Tikal in Guatemala.
Header Image Credit : INAH
Maya tomb with funerary offerings found during hotel construction
A tomb with funerary offerings has been uncovered during the construction of the Tren Maya Hotel, in Palenque, Mexico.
Archaeologists from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) conducted rescue excavations following the discovery, revealing skeletal remains associated with the Maya city of Palenque.
Palenque, also known as Lakamha in the Itza Language (meaning “Flat-Place-River”), is located near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas.
The city dates from 226 BC to AD 799, with most of the major construction works representing a rebuilding effort in response to attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in AD 599 and AD 611.
The population declined during the 8th century AD, instead becoming an agricultural population that led to the abandonment of the city zone. By 1520 following the Spanish conquest, contemporary Spanish accounts record the entire region being sparsely populated.
Excavations uncovered a stone lined funerary space sealed with limestone slabs, in which the researchers found the remains of a high-status individual who likely lived in the periphery of Palenque in a small settlement.
The burial is located at a depth of four metres, and also contained ceramic vessels and beads deposited as funerary offerings.
“The individual was placed face up with his legs extended and his head facing north,” said Diego Prieto Hernández from INAH.
The discovery was announced in a press conference reporting on the progress of the Program for the Improvement of Archaeological Zones (Promeza) in Palenque, Moral-Reforma and El Tigre, the three heritage sites that are served within Section 1 of the Mayan Train Project.
Header Image Credit : INAH
Archaeologists unearth possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle
Archaeologists from the Dyfed Archaeological Trust may have discovered the possible birthplace of King Henry VII at Pembroke Castle in Pembrokeshire, Wales.
Pembroke Castle was founded during the 11th century by Roger de Montgomerie, the 1st Earl of Shrewsbury.
In 1452, Jasper Tudor was presented both the castle and the earldom by his half-brother, King Henry VI. In 1457, Henry VII was born at the castle, the only child of Lady Margaret Beaufort and Edmund Tudor, 1st Earl of Richmond.
Following Edward IV’s ascension to the throne in 1471, Henry VII endured 14 years of exile in Brittany. He eventually claimed the throne after his forces, with backing from France, Scotland, and Wales, emerged victorious over Richard III at the Battle of Bosworth Field, marking the climax of the Wars of the Roses.
Henry VII’s reign is credited with many administrative, economic, and tax reforms, having ruled for nearly 24 years until his death in 1509 at the age of 52. Henry VII was succeed by his second son, Henry, Duke of York, who ascended to the crown as Henry VIII.
Historians have long assumed that a 13th century tower on the outer ward (known today as Henry VII Tower) was the birth place of Henry VII. However, a recent study by the Dyfed Archaeological Trust has uncovered evidence of a late-medieval winged hall-house, broadly dating to the 15th century.
The walls of the structure extend to around 25 metres, with comparisons being drawn to medieval buildings found in England and East Wales, such as Penallt Mansion in Kidwelly. Historically, Pembroke Castle was situated in the English-speaking portion of Pembrokeshire, often referred to as “Little England beyond Wales.”
Speaking to the Western Telegraph, Neil Ludlow, a consultant to Pembroke Castle, said: “All our indications are pointing to a late-medieval building which was clearly of high status within Pembrokeshire, and it looks as if it was at least two-storeys, which possibly makes it a better candidate for the birthplace of a king rather that the tower that currently bears his name.”
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