The Snake King's New Vassal


November/December 2013

Guatemala Maya Snake-Dynasty


A stela recently discovered by a team led by David Freidel of George Washington University records previously unknown events that followed a turbulent period in Maya history. In A.D. 562, Tikal, capital of a powerful Maya empire, fell to forces of the Snake Dynasty. This shift in power rippled through Mesoamerica. On the stela, found at the ancient city of Waka’, 40 miles from Tikal, glyphs record a ceremony in which a lord named Wa’oom Uch’ab Tzi’kin (He Who Stands Up the Offering of the Eagle) ascended to the throne of Waka’ as a vassal of the Snake Dynasty, probably replacing a ruler who owed his allegiance to Tikal. The monument also mentions Lady Ikoom, a Snake queen who might have been the new ruler’s mother, and it was found in front of the tomb of another powerful, later Snake queen named K’abel (“Uncovering a Maya Warrior Queen,” May/June 2013).