Ohio Professor Uncovers Ancient Mayan Queen's Tomb in Guatemala

An Ohio professor and her team of archaeologists have discovered the tomb of Lady K'abel, a seventh century Mayan queen of Maya civilization whose monument can be viewed at the Cleveland Museum of Art. Olivia Navarro-Farr, an assistant professor of anthropology at the College of Wooster, identified the tomb in June during the excavations of the ancient Mayan city of El Perú-Waka’ in northwestern Petén, Guatemala.

Navarro-Farr said in a statement:

“Lady K’abel was considered the greatest ruler of Waka’ during the Late Classic period. She 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,’ which translates to ‘Supreme Warrior’ — higher in stature and authority than even her husband, the king.

The significance of this woman’s powerful role as a ‘Kaloomte,’ a title rarely associated with Maya women, provides tremendous insight on the nexus of gender and power in Classic Maya politics.”

Navarro-Farr's team was focused on recording architectural change and were examining shrines, altars and dedicatory offerings when the discovery of Lady K'abel's tomb was made. The tomb was located at the base of a stairway in the structure that the team was excavating.

Navarro-Farr first began excavating the surface of the temple structure when she was still a doctoral student in 2003. Her past research had focused on the extensive ritual deposits associated with post-dynastic life at Waka.

The project is co-directed by David Freidel, professor of anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis, and Juan Carlos Perez, the former vice minister of culture for cultural heritage of Guetemala.