Xunantunich has always been a place of awe and wonder in Belize, and now it holds the largest tomb found in over a century that points to the “snake dynasty” that conquered many of the surrounding neighbors’ over a thousand years ago. The excavation of the site was led by our very own native Belizean Dr. Jaime Awe, together with a team from the University of Northern Arizona.
The burial chamber was beneath some 16ft to 26ft and had been unearthed for more than a millennium. It had the remains of a male adult somewhere between 20 and 30 years of age. What is very peculiar about this chamber is that it was built differently from others of the era. Dr. Jaime Awe explains that the tomb was built simultaneously along with the structure, which was a common practice among cultures such as that of the Egyptians but not of the Mayan civilization. Unlike the common practice of the Mayans which built the tombs as additions to existing structures. What is even more interesting is that the discovered hieroglyphic panels in the tomb point to that of the snake dynasty family, which are represented by the snake emblem of its house.
These panels may uncover even more clues and history of the snake dynasty family. It is believed that the panels may be part of a staircase which is originally from another Mayan site in Belize, the ancient city of Caracol. It recorded many conquests, politics, and history of the house. While it is currently unclear how these panels originating from another Mayan city appeared in a tomb of yet another, it does hold the key to unlocking lose ends of the ancient Mayan world.
Together with the remains of the unknown ruler, jaguar or possibly deer bones, six jade beads, possibly from a necklace, 13 obsidian blades and 36 ceramic vessels were also discovered. The base of the stairway also contained two caches of “offerings” with nine obsidians and twenty eight chipped artifacts representing animals and other symbols.
This discovery only shows how much more wonder and mystery our country has yet to uncover. Xunantunich, meaning “stone woman” is also the ancient Mayan site which holds the second highest structure in Belize standing 130ft over the city’s main plaza. It is a spectacular monument on its own that attracts thousands of visitors every year.
See what Dr. Jaime Awe has to say on the video below.