History | September 22, 2017 5:00 am

Tomb of Fourth Century Mayan King and Burial Mask Found in Guatemala

The mask means that the tomb belongs to a royal.

Waka, where the tomb of a king was found.
GUATEMALA - APRIL 01: Exclusive: Waka: A Strategic Cross Road For Maya Conquerors In March 2005 In Guatemala - The Pyramids Of Tikal Attrack More Than 300 000 Visitors A Year - Waka (Only 3, 5 Hours Away From The Maya City) Could Become Too A Major Touristic Attraction In The Coming Years. (Photo by Patrick AVENTURIER/Gamma-Rapho via Getty Images)

The tomb of an ancient “god-king” has been found in northern Guatemala at the site of the Mayan city of Waka, reports the Daily Mail

Previously found artifacts have dated the site to between 300 and 350 AD. Found in this tomb was a painted jade mask, which means that the tomb belongs to a member of the royal lineage, writes the Mail. 

This might be the earliest known royal tomb in the area. Six other royal tombs and “sacrificial offering burials” have been found at the site, but they date back to the fifth, sixth, and seventh centuries AD.

Archaeologists working on the US-Guatemalan El Perú-Waka’ Archaeological Project made the exciting discovery, reports the Mail.  Research co-director David Freidel, professor of anthropology in arts and sciences at Washington University in St. Louis, said that the Maya “revered their divine rulers” and continued to treat them as living souls, even after death.

“This king’s tomb helped to make the royal palace acropolis holy ground, a place of majesty, early in the history of the Wak—centipede—dynasty,” Freidel told the Mail. 

During the Classic period, the area was in charge of trade routes running all directions. The tomb, now known as Burial 80, is thought to belong to King Te’ Chan Ahk, who ruled in the early fourth century AD, according to the research team. The Mail reports that there were no inscribed artifacts inside the tomb, so researchers cannot be sure.

Based on calculations from an earlier site, the Mail writes, the Wak is one of the earliest known Maya dynasties and is thought to have been established as early as the second century AD.