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Micro-camera explores Maya tomb

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A tiny remote-controlled camera is providing remarkable views of an apparently intact 1,500-year-old Maya tomb that’s thought to hold a ruler’s remains.

The 2-inch-long camera was lowered into a vault inside a pyramid at the Palenque archaeological site, in the hills of the southern Mexican state of Chiapas. Archaeologists have known about the vault since 1999, but the only access to the room was through a small shaft in the pyramid — just big enough to fit the micro-camera through.

The images reveal a series of nine figures painted on the walls in black on a vivid, blood-red background. Dishes, apparently meant to hold funerary offerings, are set on the floor. The camera also spotted pieces of a funerary shroud made of jade and mother of pearl. “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,” Reuters quoted archaeologist Martha Cuevas as saying.

For more about today’s revelations, check out this report from Mexico. And don’t miss the National Institute of Anthropology and History’s Spanish-language news release, which includes a slideshow and an infographic.


The tomb is hidden within a pyramid known as Templo XX at Mexico’s Palenque archaeological site.


Workers had to climb down a ladder to get to the place where the micro-camera could be lowered through a small shaft.


A worker points to the small shaft that provides the only access to the tomb below.


This camera view shows what appears to be a stylized figure, painted on the red walls of the 1,500-year-old Maya tomb.





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