Archaeologists think they have discovered the burial spot of one of the Mayan civilizations most powerful rulers in Guatemala. The tomb has been identified as belonging to Lady K’abel, also known in her time as “Lady Snake Lord,” who was the warrior queen of the Wak people, according to National Geographic. She ruled for the twenty years between 672 and 692 AD.
The tomb was found during an excavation of the main temple in the ancient city of El Peru-Waka. The team of researchers that found the grave was led by David Freidel, who is an archaeologist at Washington University in St. Louis.
“She was not only a queen, but a supreme warlord, and that made her the powerful person in the kingdom during her lifetime,” Freidel told NBC News. It was a description that likens the amount of power Lady K’abel had with that of well-known Egyptian rulers like Cleopatra and Hatshepsut as well as the biblical Queen of Shiba.
The excavation site sits in Guatemala’s northwestern Pete region, not far from Mexico. It’s been studied for almost a decade and although it’s not completely certain that the tomb belongs to Lady K’abel because of the skeleton’s uncertain gender, the items found among her remains have long been associated with the woman known as the Lady Snake Lord.
In the tomb the study team found ceramics, jade jewelry, stone figurines and, most importantly, a jar carved in the shape of a conch shell that had some identifying characteristics on it. Among the other artwork, there were depictions of Lady Snake Lord and her other name, “Lady Water Lily Hand.”
“It’s as close to a smoking gun in archaeology as we can get,” Freidel told NBC. “Archaeology is a circumstantial science, but we’re putting this forward as our working hypothesis.”
K’abel was a princess in the Kan dynasty, a family of imperials that ruled out of the city of Calakmul. She was married as part of a political alliance between the Kans and the Waka people, although her title of military governor technically allocating her more power than even the king.
Freidel said his hypothesis was confirmed when his team of archaeologists found a figurine of the blue Moon Akan, a Maya death god that was held in special reverence by the civilization’s kings.
“That is remarkable,” he told NBC. “I see an image of the Akan, born mystically by the dead queen who was the warlord of her kingdom.”