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You struck it lucky.

Is that a fair, fair thing to say?
>> Well lucky and, and, unfortunate
because, once you find a particularly
important deposit.
Which the Maya found important and in
which they invested a lot of treasure and
You've basically usurped your project.
You've had to invest, reapportion how
you're spending your funds because these
finds come along by sheer serendipity.
By sheer chance, and you've got to deal
with them.
One of these finds, too, was that of a
royal tomb and you can see behind us.
The drawings that I did for some time
afterwards based on hundreds and hundreds
of photographs.
And many, many field records of what this
tomb might have looked like.
So, this is the most complex deposit
And this is one that takes all of your
skill and then takes you beyond your
skill level.
It's rather frightening to dig because of
the level of responsibility involved.
>> And it was also frightening I gather
because of the situation.
Tell me, tell me the story of the
>> Well, it's, when you find one of
these, sorts of tombs, in the old days of
course no had cell phones and you could
actually keep these things under lock and key so to
But now every worker has a cell phone and
before you know it in the regional
capital there were taxi drivers
discussing our find and we had no
security at the site.
So, all of this weighs heavily on you as
project director.
You worry about everyone's security.
It gives a kind of urgency to these
deposits for two reasons.
First, because the deposit has been
stable, more or less, for 1600 years.
And it begins to deteriorate very
rapidly, so there's an urgency to getting
it out of the ground.
And then secondarily because of these
security concerns, we wanted to get these
finds out as soon as possible.
Essentially to, get everything, up to the
Guatemala City.
>> For conservation
>> For conversation,
So it's not stolen as have been so many
other objects at the site.
>> Early on in the course I talk about
irritating it is when people say, oh
you're an archaeologist.
And what you need to be an archaeologist?
You need to be lucky, and find cool
things and treasure and all that good
And usually I'm, when people do find
good, sexy things, I go [SOUND], but this
is important for me.
>> Yeah.
It is.
We're not supposed to be looking for
these things as archaeologists, but
sometimes they just hit us on the head.
>> Yeah.
>> We come across them and then they,
as I said, have to be dealt with.
They, the, they're worth looking at,
though, for many reasons.
Particularly a royal tomb such as this
because they're so dense with
The Maya have invested so much energy
into them.
But also thought and so, the, the
deposits that they left behind, such as in this royal tomb,
tell us an enormous amount about what
they thought kings did what kings were
supposed to do in the after life.
And they give you a glimpse into the rich
inventory of material that they had at
the royal courts.
In a way that would have been scattered,
and broken, and not available to us by
any other means.
So, they're worth the investment.
They're worth doing carefully.
And from them we get a much clearer idea
of what Maya kingship might have been
like for these people.
Of, of the, the very hyper-elite, you
might call them.
The most important individuals who
>> We're seeing this society as a
[SOUND] a pyramid and within that body is
the, the apex.
>> Even, even beyond that I would say.
These people are close to gods.
In other words they're almost floating
above earth in a sense literally.
Through their ultimate homes in these
tombs but also because they're
individuals who had unique communion with
And shared some of the essence of gods as
the [CROSSTALK] tell us.
>> How, how do you read.
I mean that association with divinity is
that through the texts that we have?
Or is it through your reading of the
material in the tomb or a combination?
>> It's from the inscriptions.
>> Ah.
>> Because they tell us that they are
divine, that they're sacred beings, that
they're god like if not gods themselves.
So, these royal personages such as the,
elderly man who was put in this tomb.
Are like humans but they are unlike them
as well.
And they give us a glimpse into what held
these societies together.
Which was, not only coercion and violence
and heavy taxation but also because
people believed in these kings.
>> This interesting mix of symbolic and
coercive power that we see again and
again and again in these complex
Is he the only body in there?
I mean?
>> No, he's also went to his reward
with a lot of in this case, infants and
also small children.
We don't understand exactly what was
going on
>> Are there other places where we know
that happens.
>> Yeah that's a good question.
There really are only places like Tikal
have this kind of pattern.
So something very localized, from what we
understand to these children and infants
were not related to one another.
So, how they got in the tomb is very
likely to involve sacrifice.
And very likely to involve even captives
or coercive measures.
>> Baby captives.
>> Possibly.
>> How do we know they're not related.
I didn't, I [CROSSTALK]
>> Because of some of their dental
>> Mm-hm.
>> Some of the characteristics of their
bodies tell us that they're very unlikely
to have been related.
>> Mm-hm.
So, let's look at some masks.
Tell me about these things.
>> Well one of the ways we find things
is I said going into looters tunnels.
And they, unfortunately discovered many
fine, fine objects.
And occasionally however, they didn't
excavate things completely.
They weren't scientists.
They're not interested in that.
They're after goods that they can market.
On some of these.
>> Pompeii.
>> Absolutely.
And, and in some of these tunnels, we did
discover, remains, that were really very
Covering, for instance, this tomb that we
were just looking at of the king, was, a
very impressive building.
And it was covered almost with every
square inch by richly and deeply modeled
>> And that survived?
>> It did because the Maya aren't like
They don't build a structure and then
level it in order to start over again.
They encase it within layer after layer
as they do refurbishments or
reconstructions, they'll simply place
more on the top.
>> So they, they're doing their own
conservation in a way.
>> That's right.
And, and inside are cocooned, in this
case, features that are preserved,
because they haven't been hit by the
By rain, by sun over the millennium over
the hundreds of years.
So, there's a little bit of paint left
and some cases a lot of paint.
But also, these kinds of deeply carved
and modeled stucco that helped to tell us
something about the building in which
this king was found.
>> When, when you know who all those,
things, people, gods, animals.
>> We, we do.
And, and what we know also is we can
discover it very quickly that it's
possible to tunnel very close to these.
And be able to eventually get an idea of
what the stuccoes looked like.
Now you can't get a single image so that
the slide we're looking at behind us is
actually computer mosaic.
It's done from many, many hundreds of
different images.
>> I see.
>> That were taken simply with a
>> So photogrammetry.
>> That's right and then they're pieced
It actually becomes a three dimensional
model of what we call a point cloud.
This was done by colleagues of ours at
And it allows us to see the stuccoes in a
way that's simply not possible today.
We're not going to strip away all of the
overburden, it's better to tunnel.
And in Guatemala we have laborers who are
very adept at tunneling.
They do it safely.
With great great deal of safety.
They know which rock to remove.
It's almost like a chess game.
You have know which rock to move.
>> So you're not sort of thinking, oh
lets make this a tourist site we'll clean
it off.
I mean how long would this last if you
stripped all the cover off and said let's
look at the nice stucco masks.
It wouldn't, it wouldn't last more than a
year or two at most.
>> Okay.
>> We do know it was exposed for a bit
of time before the Maya sealed it.
Because the, the paint itself has
somewhat eroded, so it gives you a sense
it was probably exposed for a generation
at most.
>> So is it telling a story?
I mean, what's?
>> Yeah, yeah.
What it's doing, is it's showing us all
aspects of the sun.
And it including in this one behind us,
the rain god of the Maya who is regarded
as a kind of hairy, very noisy guy.
Of course all storm gods are going to be
quite noisy because of the sounds they
>> Hairy?
>> Hairy is, is something we understand
a little bit less.
But all of these masks which are showing
the gods facing out at us.
Are separated also by what we call sky
And what they're doing is they're
showing, in a very schematic stylized
way, what the Maya thought the sky looked
It contained elements of Venus, stars,
and in this case little beads that
probably indicate jewels.
So it's a almost rich, it's almost a
poetic conception, the jeweled sky.
Now on them are floating these masks of
the sun, as I said and also in this one
case, of the rain god.
The sun makes sense because we know this
was a being that the royalty identified
themselves very closely with.
And their title, one of their most
important titles generally was to liken
themselves to the sun. Now, we also see,
>> Phenomenon yeah.
>> Absolutely, and the other reason why
we suspect this is going on, is because
it's not just one aspect of the sun, it's
looking at the sun an all of it's cycles.
That is, as a being that might rise out
of the Caribbean.
As the sun would do on the eastern
horizon as would pass over head.
And eventually would sink into the Gulf
of Mexico.
And then as it passed underneath, the
Maya thought of it as a being that had
jaguar-like characteristics.
And so across this facade are all of
these different aspects of the Sun god as
it's going through cycles.
Now why would that be important?
It's because the idea that the king is
just not fixed and then he passes away is
an important one.
The idea that the king is part of a
cycle, ever returning, ever coming back.
Is, is in some ways a reassuring message
to everyone around them.
The kingship is always here.
>> That's you see that in Greek and
Roman art as well.
You know, the chariot of the sun, and you
know, and the idea that, It comes, it
goes, but it comes back.
>> Mm-hm.
>> That's what's happening here.
>> Mm-hm.