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The history of the Mayan civilization is more mysterious than the history of the rest of the ancient world. As most of the Mayan’s written records were destroyed during the conquest, understanding their culture and history in detail is difficult.
A recent discovery of a large jade pendant that tells the history of the king who possessed it gives some new information about the story of this lost civilization. Much of what we thought we knew about the Maya may have to change after this recent discovery.
The pendant, discovered in 2015, is large, made of jade, and covered in hieroglyphics. The t-shaped pendant was something that the King wore during religious festivities. The pendant was discovered in Belize – an unusual location, far from major urban centers, and not somewhere that one would expect to dig up a king’s pendant. The archaeological site where the artifact was discovered was a mere village, inhabited between 150 and 850 A.D. The pendant was worn for the wind god Huracan, the most important of all Mayan gods. Climate change is blamed for the loss of many villages and kingdoms after 850, with the village in question being abandoned at around that time. The artifact was thought of as magical by the Maya, something that could prevent the decline of their civilization.
The inscription on the pendant tells an interesting story. The village was linked to the much larger Mayan urban center of Caracol, far to the NorthWest. The inscription strongly implies that Mayan political power extended farther to the south and east than was formerly believed. The founding of a new, previously unknown political dynasty is told by the inscription. The appearance of other objects associated with royalty and urban power also appeared in the area at around the same time as the pendant was created. Time will tell how much more can be learned about the Mayans in the last days before their civilization began to fall through the study of this fascinating archaeological site. The evidence that a new state was founded in Belize towards the end of the most prosperous period in Mayan history is not yet conclusive.