She sounds like the most badass woman to ever rule pre-colonial South America: Queen K'abel of the Maya, one of the greatest leaders of Classic Maya civilization. Archaelogists have known about her reign through plaques that commemorate her reign. But now, a research team working in Guatemala has finally discovered her tomb — including her remains.
In addition to finding K'abel's decayed skeleton, the archaeologists uncovered a hoard of glistening jade jewels and a small alabaster vase adorned with the image of an older woman's face. The vase was inscribed with the queen's name, which confirmed the identity of the tomb's lone occupant.
Lead researcher David Freidel believes the discovery is significant, not only because the tomb is that of a notable historical figure in Maya history, but because the newly uncovered tomb presents a unique situation in which Maya archaeological and historical records meet.
Speaking through a press release, he noted, "The Classic Maya civilization is the only 'classical' archaeological field in the New World - in the sense that like archaeology in Ancient Egypt, Greece, Mesopotamia or China, there is both an archaeological material record and an historical record based on texts and images."
According to the researchers, K'abel was one of the greatest rulers of the Late Classic period. She ruled with her husband, K'inich Bahlam, for at least 20 years (672-692 AD). She was also the military governor of the Wak kingdom for her family, the imperial house of the Snake King, and she carried the title "Kaloomte'," which translates to "Supreme Warrior," higher in authority than her husband, the king.
K'abel also is famous for her portrayal on the famous Maya stela, Stela 34 of El Perú (shown above left), which can be found in the Cleveland Art Museum.
Details of the study can be found here (pdf).
Images via AFP/Proyecto Arqueologico El Peru-Waka'.