The video: Archaeologists have been granted a rare glimpse inside an ancient Mayan tomb that hasn't been opened for 1,500 years. The jungle-covered pyramid that contains the tomb, which was discovered in 1999, is too fragile to break into, so in April researchers lowered a two-inch-long, remote-controlled camera 16 feet into it. The video, released last week, reveals a "stunning" funeral chamber for an early ruler of the once-great city-state of Palenque, in southern Mexico. There are offerings still on the floor, and remnants of a funerary shroud made of jade and mother of pearl (Watch some of the video below). The room has blood red walls covered in black drawings. Archaelogists couldn't see a sarcophagus, but they say the bones might be lying directly on the stone floor, which is littered with chunks of crumbling walls. The tomb probably dates to between 431 and 550 A.D., and might contain the remains of K'uk' Bahlam I, the first ruler of the city-state.
The reaction: "This is an important find," Susan Gillespie, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Florida, told the Daily Mail. It sheds new light on early Mayan rulers, says archaeologist Martha Cuevas, as quoted by the Associated Press. Since later rulers often built on top of older pyramids, tombs like these are rarely accessible. Indeed, this discovery will help researchers better understand the Mayan people and the ruler buried within, writes Nick Carbone at TIME. But "hopefully they can do it before the Mayans' prediction of the end of the world in 2012." Check out the tomb for yourself:
THE WEEK'S AUDIOPHILE PODCASTS: LISTEN SMARTER
- Watch out, China — America is working on dogfighting drones
- How liberals are unwittingly paving the way for the legalization of adult incest
- How the Simpsons/Family Guy crossover revealed the worst of both shows
- The troubling persistence of eugenicist thought in modern America
- How to be the most productive person in your office — and still get home by 5:30 p.m.
- Why the Chinese military is only a paper dragon
- 43 TV shows to watch in 2014
- Why America won't have enough money to battle ISIS
- Libertarianism's terrible, horrible, no good, very bad idea
- 11 facts yü should know about the umlaut
Subscribe to the Week