Archaeologists find likely queen tomb in Guatemala

Associated Press Modified: October 5, 2012 at 11:01 am •  Published: October 5, 2012
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Freidel, who is from Washington University in St. Louis, said the findings at the ruins of El Peru-Waka were "serendipitous."

"In retrospect, it makes a lot of sense that the people of Waka buried her in this particularly prominent place in their city," Freidel said.

For Marcello A. Canuto, director of the Middle American Research Institute at Tulane University, the alabaster identifies the tomb as that of the "Lady of Kaan" and noted there is a stela erected in her honor at the archaeological site.

"She has been given all the honors a male king would have been given," Canuto said. "It's not the first such tomb discovered, but it gives an idea of the important role women played in forging dynastic alliances, and the status they enjoyed."

Traci Ardren, associate professor of anthropology at the University of Miami and a Mayan archaeologist specializing in gender relations, said the traditional belief that Maya men occupied a more important place than women has to do with the amount of images in Mayan art that show men in positions of authority.

"People like Lady K'abel show there were examples of extraordinary women that were able to position themselves in powerful roles, were incredibly successful and were accepted by society," Ardren said.