When media reports about archaeological discoveries things tend to get misunderstood. As an example of this let’s take the tomb of “K’utz Chman” found at Tak’alik Ab’aj, launched as the oldest known royal Maya tomb. The headline on mail online is illuminating: ‘He was the big chief’: Grave of ancient king who laid foundations for Mayan civilisation in 700 B.C. unearthed by archaeologists. First of all, a chief is not a king by traditional anthropological definitions. Chiefs rule chiefdoms and kings rule kingdoms. However, that old categorization is heavily generalized and we simply do not know what kind of office the buried person had. The “vulture” found in the tomb is in later Classic period inscriptions sometimes part of the ajaw glyph, the title of the ruling stratum. The headline quote from Orrego also says “he” but there are apparently no preserved bones in the tomb so the gender of the person is based on assumption unless there is additional data not presented in the link above. Unless there are iconographic and/or epigraphic evidence from elsewhere at the site that indicates that the buried person was a man, we cannot assume that the person buried in it was a man. Some of the wealthiest tombs from the Maya area have been those of royal women…
However, the most problematic statement in the headline (and in the text itself) is that it was a grave of a king who laid foundations for Maya civilization. There are no such people. This is not the Adam (or Eve) of Maya civilization. This is “Culture Area” thinking that has been out of fashion for the past four or five decades (although it is quite common in Mesoamerican archaeology and in fringe archaeology). The author of the article also mentions the “Olmec Empire”. No, there never was such an empire.
And finally, the comment section is seldom worth reading. Here we, of course, find “alternative interpretations” of aliens , 2012, and the like.
Update: Rosemary Joyce has written about the civilization issue.