The discovery in northern Guatemala of depictions of the Kaanul dynasty on a 1,500-year-old Mayan altar are turning heads and being compared to the dynasty on TV show Game of Thrones, as this Mayan dynasty was also hell bent on taking cities and people under its control.
According to Phys.org, the Mayan altar was created out of limestone and was recently discovered by archaeologists at the jungle site of La Corona, which borders both Mexico and Belize. Tomas Barrientos, who was co-director of the excavations at La Corona, explained that the altar shows the city’s ruler, King Chak Took Ich’aak, “sitting and holding a scepter from which emerge two patron gods of the city.”
Because a hieroglyph was also discovered on the Mayan altar, archaeologists have been able to trace its creation to the exact date of May 12, 544 CE. The Kaanul dynasty, which is also excitingly referred to as the Serpent Kingdom, were able to successfully defeat their arch rivals known as Tikal in 562 CE and managed to stay firmly in control of the Mayan lowlands for approximately 200 years.
Further investigation of this ancient Mayan altar also revealed that there was a wedding between a king in La Corona and a princess who lived in the Serpent Kingdom, leading Barrientos to conclude that the real life dynasty here was not at all dissimilar to that found in Game of Thrones.
“This altar shows us a part of Guatemala’s history and in this case, around 1,500 years ago, I would call this the historical Mayan version of Game of Thrones.”
Ancient altar reveals Mayan 'Game of Thrones' dynasty https://t.co/dUsznyRNgV
— Phys.org (@physorg_com) September 14, 2018
Barrientos notes that the 1,500-year-old Mayan altar thankfully “fills in the gaps” and also “pieces together the puzzle” of life for the Mayans.
Explaining that the site of La Corona “was the place where the most important historical Mayan political movement began to take shape,” he also stated that when it comes to the uniqueness of the altar itself, “It’s a high quality work of art that shows us they were rulers entering into a period of great power and who were allying themselves with others to compete, in this case, with Tikal.”
While Tikal may have been conquered initially by the Serpent Kingdom, they eventually assumed dominance, defeating the dynasty of the Serpent Kingdom. However, according to Barrientos, the information found on the Mayan altar is crucial when it comes to teaching us about the political strategies that were once employed here.
“Having information about what happened next, how they were plotting a political strategy here, teaches us a lot about politics in those times and the fight for territory.”
Despite the fact that the details on this Mayan altar were carved 1,500 years ago, the political battles and wars that were waged are every bit as relevant today as they were then, and prove that shows like Game of Thrones aren’t that far off the mark.