News
News Home
Quick Bites
Exploradio
News Archive
News Channel
Special Features
NPR
nowplaying
On AirNewsClassical
Loading...
  
School Closings
WKSU Support
Funding for WKSU is made possible in part through support from the following businesses and organizations.

Wayside Furniture

Hennes Paynter Communications


For more information on how your company or organization can support WKSU, download the WKSU Media Kit.

(WKSU Media Kit PDF icon )


Donate Your Vehicle to WKSU

Programs Schedule Make A Pledge Member BenefitsFAQ/HelpContact Us
Science and Technology




Exploradio: The Mayan queen
An archeologist from the College of Wooster uncovers the remains of a Mayan queen in Guatemala whose portrait is housed in Cleveland
by WKSU's JEFF ST. CLAIR
This story is part of a special series.


Reporter / Host
Jeff St. Clair
 
Olivia Navarro-Farr teaches anthropology at the College of Wooster. She led the excavation of the tomb of Lady K'abel, a Mayan queen who ruled from 672-692 AD, and is still revered by her people.
Courtesy of Jeff St.Clair
Download (WKSU Only)
In The Region:

A professor from the College of Wooster this summer uncovered the remains of a Mayan empress in Guatemala.  The discovery also has a Cleveland connection.

In this week’s Exploradio, WKSU’s Jeff St.Clair explores a new understanding of the role of women in this ancient culture.

Exploradio: The Mayan queen

Other options:
Windows Media / MP3 Download (3:57)


(Click image for larger view.)

A royal tomb
The ancient Maya inhabited the northern part of Central America - today’s Guatemala, Honduras, Southern Chiapas, Mexico, and the Yucatan.  The Mayan empire peaked from around the third century AD until about a thousand years ago.  But the people remained long after the empire crumbled.  They resisted the Spanish conquistadors, and Mayan culture and languages persist today.

While much of Mayan history remains hidden among the ruins of cities covered by tropical growth, the life of one figure has suddenly come into focus.

College of Wooster anthropology professor Olivia Navarro-Farr describes the moment this summer when she first saw the symbolic shield of a warrior atop bones buried beneath a temple in the Mayan city of El Peru-Waka'.

“There was an audible gasp, ‘Look at what is here!’”

She was the first person to view the body in nearly 1,500 years.

“We knew it was a person of royal import, a royal individual, a ruler.  We didn’t know whether it was male or female at this point; we hadn’t excavated the remains.”

Signed: Lady Snake Lord 
Buried with the body, Navarro-Farr discovered an alabaster sculpture of a woman emerging from a tiny conch shell.

“But it wasn’t until we picked it up … and turned it around and, … ‘Oh my God, there’s a line of glyphic text on the back.”

 It reads… “Ix Kan Ajaw,  or Lady Snake Lord.”

Stanley Guenter is an expert in Mayan hieroglyphics and one of the investigators in the project.  He teaches anthropology at Idaho State University.  He says the vessel discovered with the body identifies her as from the ruling family of Calakmul, the main seat of power in the Mayan world.

He says, “though she ruled with her husband at El Peru, she was always referred to as a princess from that site to the north.”

Calakmul, 120 km north in what is now Mexico, was the seat of the Mayan emperor. 

Olivia Navarro-Farr agrees: “Her place as a princess of Calakmul, her role was one of very profound political cache.”

Navarro-Farr began her exploration of the temple nearly a decade ago as a student of David Freidel, an archeologist from Washington University in St. Louis.

Freidel says the woman discovered this summer at El Peru-Waka was more than a princess, more than even a queen.

“She was the military governor of the Snake Empire in the west.”

The warrior queen
The Mayan called this rank the ‘Kaloomte'’. Lady Snake Lord, or Lady K’abel in her language, was more powerful than her husband.  He was a king, but still a vassal of her father, the emperor.  She was Kaloomte', the supreme political and war leader.

Freidel says a comparison can be made between Lady K'abal and another warrior queen, Cleopatra.

Freidel says Lady K’abel ruled at a critical time in the region’s history.   Her empire was locked in a centuries old civil war with the neighboring city-state of Tikal.  Her empire was eventually overthrown by Tikal, but not while Lady K’abel lived. 

Mayan queen in Cleveland
Freidel says Lady K’abel still radiates power in a detailed sculpture that’s part of the Pre-Columbian collection at the Cleveland Museum of Art.

“She is portrayed as a serene and beautiful woman facing to her right.  She holds in her right hand a magic wand, she holds on her left arm a battle shield.”

The same battle shield that Olivia Navarro-Farr uncovered this summer at El Peru-Waka’.  She says, discovering the tomb of Lady K’abel at the base of the temple complex explains why, throughout a decade of study, she and her team have found dozens of other people buried nearby.

“This building represents the ultimate ancestor shrine…for everybody’s ancestral legacy.”

Navarro-Farr says the memory of Lady K’abel still inspires reverence among the Maya of Guatemala.  Her image in Cleveland will be back on display when the museum completes its restoration at the end of next year.  

Add Your Comment
Name:

Location:

E-mail: (not published, only used to contact you about your comment)


Comments:




 
Page Options

Print this page

E-Mail this page / Send mp3

Share on Facebook



Support for Exploradio
provided by:








Stories with Recent Comments

Will Ohio's marijuana initiative follow casinos' lead?
We just ask to have marijuana legalized and here comes some nimrod trying to rob us of our rights and make us buy it from some legalized new type DRUG DEALER th...

Fancy dinners from humble beginnings at The Blue Door
Grandma of Chris Miller moved to Florida in a retirement community but I sure miss the Falls and the Blue Door, and the fine service and the true friendship of ...

The Black Keys guitar tech's moment in the spotlight
Nice job, Vivian. It's always nice to hear about the unsung heroes getting their due! Thank you, Chuck Johnston (Full disclosure - I'm a friend of the Carney fa...

A guide for gift-shopping for older Ohians
I'll never be to old for peanut brittle.

Akron's Tuba Christmas: A resounding blast of holiday spirit
Nice piece, Vivian! Looking forward to hearing you move from flute to tuba on Saturday. Love hearing your interviews and this seemed extra special since I kno...

Cleveland Hugo Boss workers are fighting for their jobs again
Bro. Ginard; I support your effert to keep your jobs, I understand all about concesions, I was a Union offical from 1965 until 1991 and the company th...

Asian Carp control could benefit from bill passed by House, heading to the Senate
help me fight the battle against invasive carp by method of harvest

Ohio's Portman supports lifting limits on party political money
If Portman was legitimately concerned about outside groups influence on elections he would have supported the DISCLOSE act. Instead he helped block it being bro...

Study shows trade with China has cost more than 3 million U.S. jobs
I disagree with James Dorn! If we don't change the playing field and make it a fair competition the whole US industry will be weaker and weaker. Eventually all ...

Copyright © 2014 WKSU Public Radio, All Rights Reserved.

 
In Partnership With:

NPR PRI Kent State University

listen in windows media format listen in realplayer format Car Talk Hosts: Tom & Ray Magliozzi Fresh Air Host: Terry Gross A Service of Kent State University 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. NPR Senior Correspondent: Noah Adams Living on Earth Host: Steve Curwood 89.7 WKSU | NPR.Classical.Other smart stuff. A Service of Kent State University