Posted by: Johan Normark | January 11, 2010

Burial found in the Temple of the Murals at Bonampak

Last week INAH announced that a crypt has been found in Room 2 of the famous Temple of the Murals (Structure 1) at Bonampak. This 2.20 x 0.70 x 0.75 m large crypt included the remains of a headless man who was accompanied by ceramics and jade ornaments. The man would have been between 35 and 42 years old when he died. His identity is unknown but he could potentially be a war captive, like the ones depicted on the murals. Another possibility is that he is a close relative of Chan Muwaan II who governed Bonampak 776-792 AD. The burial is dated to the late 8th century.

Only the jawbone of the skull was found. Two polychrome dishes were located at the feet. A perforated alabaster vase was located next to where the skull would have been. A small flint knife was found next to the alabaster vase. This could potentially indicate a ritual sacrifice which would support the idea that the man was a sacrificial victim and a war captive. He had been dressed up in a spondylus shell pectoral, a necklace and 2 bracelets of jade beads with 443 stones. The bracelets also had 16 marine shell beads. Charcoal remains in the crypt are currently being Radiocarbon dated. DNA from the bones is also being compared to 30 other skeletons found at Bonampak in order to determine the possible origin of the individual.

The main hypothesis is that Chaan Muwaan II came from a different lineage/house than the former Bonampak rulers. With the help of Yaxchilan (he was married to a sister of Itzamnaaj B’alam III of Yaxchilan) he may have taken control of Bonampak and some of the murals depict the event where he defeats his enemies and the following sacrifices.

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