Tiny camera reveals inside of ancient Mayan tomb

Reuters News
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Posted: Jun 23, 2011 9:28 PM
Tiny camera reveals inside of ancient Mayan tomb

MEXICO CITY (Reuters) - A tiny remote-controlled camera peered inside the tomb of a Mayan ruler that has been sealed for 1,500 years, revealing red frescoes, pottery and pieces of a funerary shroud made of jade and mother of pearl.

The tomb was discovered in 1999 inside a pyramid among the ruins of the Mayan city of Palenque in the hills of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas.

But until now archeologists had not been able to access the vault believed to hold the remains of a Mayan ruler who lived between AD 431 and 550, the National Institute of Anthropology and History said in a release on Thursday.

By dropping the small camera 16 feet deep through a small hole at the top of the pyramid, researchers were able to get the first view of the intact tomb.

"The characteristics of the funeral site show that the bones could belong to a sacred ruler from Palenque, probably one of the founders of a dynasty," said archeologist Martha Cuevas.

The tomb's walls are painted in a rich red with paintings of Mayan figures. The Mayans flourished between AD 250-900 and Palenque is one of the most important Mayan archeological sites.

(Reporting by Rachel Uranga, writing by Cyntia Barrera, editing by Anthony Boadle)