Archaeologists in Guatemala discovered the tomb of a powerful seventh-century Maya queen who carried the title ‘Supreme Warrior’, higher in authority than her husband, the king.

The team discovered the tomb of Lady K’abel, one of the great queens of Classic Maya civilisation at the royal city of El Peru-Waka’. A small, carved alabaster jar in the burial chamber led the team to conclude it was that of K’abel. The white jar is carved as a conch shell, with the head and arm of an aged woman emerging from the opening.

The depiction of the woman, mature with a lined face and a strand of hair in front of her ear, and four glyphs carved into the jar, point to the jar as belonging to K’abel.

“Based on this and other evidence, including ceramic vessels found in the tomb and stela [large stone slab] carvings on the outside, the tomb is likely that of K’abel,” said the team. K’abel, considered the greatest ruler of the Late Classic period, ruled with her husband, K’inich Bahlam, for at least 20 years (672-692 AD). She was the military governor of the Wak kingdom for her family, the imperial house of the Snake King, and she carried the title “Kaloomte”, translated to “Supreme Warrior”, higher in authority than her husband. K’abel is also famous for her portrayal on the famous Maya stela, Stela 34 of El Peru, now in the Cleveland Art Museum.

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