The discovery of ruler K’utz Chman’s – Royal Vulture Ancestor burial at the dawn of the Maya era at the archeological site Tak’Alik Ab’aj.
The team of the Archaeological National Park Tak’alik Ab’aj –after 10 years of continuous searching- finally was lucky to find the second royal burial, which is particularly interesting, as its pattern differentiates from the first and it is quite more ancient.
Among the findings are unique amazing miniature beads -hundreds of them- of the precious Olmec blue jadeite and apple green (imperial) jadeite, still in position indicating that they were sewn on cloth or leather, embroidered on the bracelets, and anklets, -and even more splendorous- on the loincloth.
The site lies in the southwest of Guatemala, about 45 km (28 mi) from the border with the Mexican state of Chiapas and 40 km (25 mi) from the Pacific Ocean. Tak´ alik Ab´aj is representative of the first blossoming of Maya culture. Tak'alik Ab'aj' means "standing stone" in the local Kíche´ Maya Language.
The Royal Vulture Ancestor
The calibrated radiocarbon date is 2 SIGMA CALIBRATION: Cal BC 770 to 510 (Cal BP -before present 2720 to 2460, courtesy of Mr. Cernikovsky’s group of 40 friends of archaeology), confirms the date 700 to 400 before Christ based on the stratigraphic and ceramic data. This date corresponds to the 2nd. Part of the Middle Preclassic, Phase Nil, which has been defined as the epoch of transition from the Olmec to the early Maya representation at Tak’alik Ab’aj and situates this burial at the beginning or dawn of the Maya era, and for that reason can be considered the most ancient royal Maya burial with such an sophisticated apparel found in Mesoamerica.
The finding: Burial No. 2 of Tak'alik Ab'aj “K'utz Chman” (Vulture Ancestor/Lord) is situated at the beginning or the dawn of the early Maya era and can be considered the most ancient royal Maya burial with such sophisticated apparel found in Mesoamerica.
The continuation of the excavations following the context of Offering “Las Muñecas” (Dolls) in the central area deep inside Structure 6 at Tak’alik Ab’aj gave place to a discovery which very well can be labeled as the maximum exponent of the archaeological discoveries of the present year 2012 of the 13 Baktun.
This burial is located in a north-south oriented hole dug in the middle preclassic version of Structure 6, immediately south of the Offering the Ancestor Necklace “Collar del Ancestro”, Ancestor Necklace, discovered also last year. The apparel of this second burial, which -as the first one- does not present conserved bones, contains relatively few vessels, but the wonderful six feminine figurines of Offering “Las Muñecas”, and the amazing miniature beads -hundreds of them- of the precious Olmec blue jadeite and apple green (imperial) jadeite, still in position indicating that they were sewn on cloth or leather, embroidered on the bracelets, and anklets, -and even more splendorous- on the loincloth.
This loincloth is unique, with miniature jadeite bead embroidered, loincloth found in situ in Mesoamerica. No other jadeite embroidered loincloth has been found so far.
The necklace, with special forms of beads similar to those found in the Olmec area, has a unique central piece: a so called “standing winged figure” or “celt with bird head”, analogous to the various pieces of the collection at the Museum of Costa Rica, and a piece from the Massive Offering at the site Cerro de Las Mesas, situated at the opposite end in the zone of the Gulf of Mexico, drawing herewith the ancient long distance trade route from the Tehuantepec Isthmus and along the Pacific Coast.
This pendant portraits a human figure with bird head, very likely a vulture, which may represent an early version of the “ajaw” (lord) title, as found at Altar Shook and Stela 1 from the site El Portón, and at Monument 13 from La Venta, which later evolves towards the miniature ceremonial heads of jadeite mosaics.
This burial is of great importance considering the connection with the long distance commercial route passing along the Pacific Coast and the apparent sociocultural development towards regional centers in this geographic region and it provides the opportunity to establish degrees of similitude and/or contrast differences in cultural features and its diffusion.
This finding goes more than 2500 years back -to the beginning or dawn of the Maya era-, and can refer to one of the first Maya rulers at Tak’alik Ab’aj, which as a vanguard did the first step from the representation of the Olmec world towards the innovation of the early Maya world view. As well he could be referred to affectionately as one of the first early Maya with Olmec habits still.
Who has discovered the oldest Royal Mayan Tomb so far?
In 2010 at burial number one of Chiapa de Corzo, Mexico a tomb was discovered, which includes Olmec and Zoque traits. The tomb dated approximately 900 B.C, it was not denominated “Maya” by the researchers, it was it was denominated “Zoque” and that is how the scientific papers call it. The team of scientist claimed it was the oldest Mesoamerican tomb of such relevance.
The researcher Lynneth Lowe says in an interview with the National Institute of Anthropology and Historia of Mexico (Newsletter) published on September 12, 2012, that the findings are evidence of the importance and complexity of the Zoque culture, which has not been sufficiently valued due, perhaps, to its early development.Source: http://www.inahnoticias.mx/boletin1.php?id_boletin=844
A lively discussion is already in place regarding the topic, teams of researchers in Mexico and Guatemala are analyzing the complex interconnections of these sites.
At the site of the Archaeological National Park Tak'alik Ab'aj a Museum is in construction, it is very symbolically called “The snail of time”, El Caracol del Tiempo. Here are the designs of the spectacular museum, soon to be finished.
Fahsen Ortega, Federico
2001 Análisis de los Monumentos y Textos de Estilo Maya de Abaj Takalik. Proyecto Nacional Abaj Takalik, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Dirección General del Patrimonio Cultural y Natural/IDAEH. Archivo Proyecto Nacional Abaj Takalik, Guatemala.
Lacadena García-Gallo, Alfonso
2008 La Escritura Olmeca y la Hipótesis del Mixe-Zoque: Implicaciones Lingüísticas de un Análisis Estructural del Monumento 13 de La Venta. En Olmeca: Balance y Perspectivas. Memoria de la Primera Mesa Redonda. Coordinadores María Teresa Uriarte y Rebecca González Lauck, 607-626, vol 2. Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas a través de la Dirección General de Publicaciones y Fomento Editorial, Universidad Nacional Autónomo de México y Fundación Arqueológica del Nuevo Mundo-Universidad Brigham Young, México. ISBN 978-607-2-00192-3 (obra completa)
Schieber de Lavarreda, Christa
2003 Una Nueva Ofrenda de Abaj Takalik: El Entierro No. 1 de Abaj Takalik. Proyecto Nacional Tak’alik Ab’aj, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Dirección General del Patrimonio Cultural y Natural/IDAEH. XVI Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2002. Editores J. P. Laporte, B. Arroyo, H. L. Escobedo y H. E. Mejía, pp. 797-806. Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Instituto de Antropología e Historia, Asociación Tikal, Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala.
Schieber de Lavarreda, Christa y Miguel Orrego Corzo
2008 Los Alcances del Mundo Olmeca en Tak’alik Ab’aj. En Olmeca: Balance y Perspectivas. Memoria de la Primera Mesa Redonda. Coordinadores María Teresa Uriarte y Rebecca González Lauck, 519-532, vol 2. Consejo Nacional para la Cultura y las Artes, Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, Instituto de Investigaciones Estéticas a través de la Dirección General de Publicaciones y Fomento Editorial, Universidad Nacional Autónomo de México y Fundación Arqueológica del Nuevo Mundo-Universidad Brigham Young, México. ISBN 978-607-2-00192-3 (obra completa)
2010 Preclassic Olmec and Maya Monuments and Architecture at Takalik Abaj. In The Place of Stone Monuments. Context, Use, and Meaning in Mesoamerica’s Preclassic Transition. Dumbarton Oaks Pre-Columbian Symposia and Colloquia. Dumbarton Oaks Research Library and Collection, Washington, D.C. Editors Julia Guernsey, John E. Clark and Barbara Arroyo, pp. 177-205. Dumbarton Oaks Trustees for Harvard University, Washington, D.C. ISBN 978-0-88402-364-7
2011 La Pasión del Señor de la Greca. Proyecto Nacional Tak’alik Ab’aj, Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Dirección General del Patrimonio Cultural y Natural/IDAEH. XXIV Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2010. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala.
2012 El Retorno al ancestro en Tak’alik Ab’aj: Hallazgo del collar del ancestro del “Señor de la Greca”. XXV Simposio de Investigaciones Arqueológicas en Guatemala, 2011. Museo Nacional de Arqueología y Etnología, Guatemala.
Sharer, Robert J.
1989 The Olmec and the Southeast periphery of Mesoamerica. In Regional Perspective on the Olmec. Robert J. Sharer and David C. Grove editors, 247-274. A School of American Research Book. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0 521 36332 2
Pictures: Courtesy of “Parque Arqueológico Nacional Tak’Alik Ab’Aj , Ministerio de Cultura y Deportes, Dirección General del Patrimonio Cultural y Natural/IDAEH.” National Archeaological Park Tak´Alik Ab´Áj, Ministry of Culture and Soprts, General Directory of Cultural and Natural Patrimony /IDEH.