A Maya royal tomb, filled with offerings that include the bones of children, has emerged from an archaeological site in Guatemala.
An international team led by Brown University's Stephen Houston on Friday reported the discovery unearthed from the El Diablo pyramid in the city of El Zotz in May. Dating to 350 to 400 A.D., the burial chamber, some six feet high, four feet wide and 12 feet long, lay under a small temple to a sun god at the foot of the pyramid.
"When we opened the tomb, I poked my head in and there was still, to my astonishment, a smell of putrification and a chill that went to my bones," Houston said in a statement. "The chamber had been so well sealed, for over 1600 years, that no air and little water had entered."
The tomb contains carved wood, painted stucco, rope and pottery, as well as bowls containing finger bones. "So far, it seems likely that there are six children in the tomb, some with whole bodies and probably two solely with skulls," says the statement.
"We still have a great deal of work to do," Houston said. "Royal tombs are hugely dense with information and require years of study to understand. No other deposits come close."
By Dan Vergano