The skeleton of a Maya Queen - with her head mysteriously placed between two bowls - is just one of the treasures found in a 2,000-year-old rodent-infested tomb.
Priceless jade gorgets, beads, and ceremonial knives were also discovered in the cavern - which was found underneath a younger 1,300-year-old tomb which also contained a body - in the Guatemalan ruins of Nakum.
The two royal burials are the first to be discovered at the site, which was once a densely packed Maya centre.
CLICK ON IMAGES TO ENLARGE
Discovery: The skeleton of a Maya Queen - with her head mysteriously placed between two bowls - is just one of the treasures found in a 2,000-year-old rodent-infested tomb
Mystery: The head of the dead woman found in the tomb was covered by a vessel
Maya Queen: A traditional picture of the queen by Ewald Kuch
Wiesław Koszkul and colleagues from the Jagiellonian University Institute of Archaeology in Krakow, Poland, have been investigating Nakum's surroundings, known as the Cultural Triangle, for decades.
Koszkul said: 'We think this structure was something like a mausoleum for the royal lineage for at least 400 years.'
The upper tomb's corpse had been badly destroyed by rodents over the intervening centuries, but researchers said it was clearly the body of another Maya ruler.
They also believed it could be of a woman because of a small size of a ring found in the tomb.
Excavations started on the site, which had been completely overtaken by the jungle, in 2006.
Onceinside the first level of the tomb, the scientists noticed cracks in the floor and when they cut through the floor, they found the second, older crypt.
Koszkul said: 'I think we could find some more burials beneath the level we excavated, [but] our excavations – our test pits – are very narrow.'
He said he did not know exactly why the body had been buried with bowls.
But that he had seen 'similar patterns' in the Guatemalan site of Tikal.
Andhe admitted that the royal figure's gender had also taken them by surprise. 'It’s surprising to me – we were expecting a male,' he said.
'Whatwas really amazing was that the tomb was unlooted, despite the fact that we found looters' trenches around the side,' said project director Jaroslaw Zralka.
Ancient: Signet rings, such as this one, were among artifacts deposited directly above the 1,300-year-old ruler at least a hundred years after their burial
Excavation: Priceless jade gorgets, beads, ceremonial knives and another body were also discovered in the cavern - which was found underneath a younger 1,300-year-old tomb - in the Guatemalan ruins of NakuTheMayan Civilisation is the general name given to several independent, loosely affiliated city states who shared a cultural heritage.
They occupied central America, including the southern parts of Mexico, Belize, Guatemala, El Salvador and Honduras.
It was an area of about 150,000 square miles - researchers tend to split the Maya into the Highland and Lowland Maya.
TheMaya are thought to have existed between 500 BC and AD 900. The variousgroups spoke nearly 30 closely related languages and dialects.
Reconstruction: This is what one of the pyramid's at Nakum would have looked like, according to researchers
Discovery: Jade (left) and ceremonial knives (right) have also been found in the tombs
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-2041348/Rats-riches-Maya-Queens-skeleton-riches-2-000-year-old-rodent-infested-tomb.html#ixzz1Yy6XKNOV
|Liveleak on Facebook|