Archaeologists in Mexico discovered a highly adorned human body in a burial that might be more than 1,000 years old, in an area where workers were ending building on a major tourist train project, according to the country’s official antiquities institute INAH on Monday.
The discovery was made this month while archaeological salvage work was being done in tandem with the construction of a multibillion-dollar tourist train in southern Mexico, which is intended to draw tourists to the region’s many ancient Maya sites, as well as nearby top beach resorts like Cancun and Tulum.
The rail project, known as the Maya Train, is a top economic development priority of President Andres Manuel Lopez Obrador. It employs teams of relatively well-funded archaeologists who have rushed to complete excavations so the construction work will not be delayed. Digs elsewhere in the country have suffered budget cuts.
The latest burial discovery took place during work on the construction of a hotel near the major Maya ruins of Palenque in Chiapas state, once home to one of the ancient civilization’s largest and most sophisticated urban centers.
The skeletal remains were found some 2 kilometers (1.2 miles) from the city’s center, home to towering temples and a sprawling palace compound, in a stone box. They likely pertain to an elite resident of the city, known by the ancient Maya as Lakamha’.
The box also held three ceramic vessels, ear flares and a pair of greenstone beads.
INAH also noted that the individual was buried face up, his head facing north, adding that further testes are needed to determine the individual’s exact age and other characteristics.
Scholars credit the ancient Maya with major human achievements in art, architecture, astronomy and writing.
Palenque, like dozens of other ancient cities clustered around southern Mexico and parts of Central America, thrived from around 300-900 AD.