The ancient Mayan tomb of the "Red Queen" was surrounded by treasure and covered in blood-red dust

Anita Durairaj

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Tomb of the Red Queen in MexicoPhoto byAnagoria; CC-BY-3.0

The Tomb of the Red Queen is a burial chamber that contained the remains of a Mayan noblewoman.

The tomb is located in Temple XIII in the ancient Maya city of Palenque in southern Mexico. It dates back to 600 to 700 AD.

Temple XIII is actually a pyramid but it had not been explored until 1994. Initially, it was in ruins and in poor condition.

In 1994, a young archaeologist was performing some routine stabilization work on the temple stairs when she noticed a small crack. Upon taking a closer look at the crack, she saw that it looked into a narrow passage and a large sealed door.

The archaeologists made an opening large enough to enter the passage and when they got to the sealed door, they realized that it held something important to the Mayans.

They discovered that it contained a sarcophagus and an intact tomb. There were two human remains located by the sarcophagus - the skeleton of a young boy and a woman. They had apparently been sacrificed to accompany the dead.

When archaeologists lifted open the sarcophagus, they found the "Red Queen." The skeletal remains of the buried woman was nicknamed the "Red Queen" because she was covered with bright-red dust.

The red dust was cinnabar or mercuric oxide and it was used by the Mayans as a preservative in royal burials.

The Red Queen was buried with a beautiful jade mask, jewelry, and ceramic pieces.

Archaeologists identified the Red Queen to be a middle-aged woman. She was unusually tall and suffered from osteoporosis. She was also wealthy and was from the Mayan noble class.

It is thought that she was the wife of the Mayan king, Pakal the Great as her burial pyramid was next to his pyramid. However, her true identity is still a mystery and is unconfirmed.

The Red Queen remains buried in Palenque, Mexico.

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Trained with a Ph.D. in Chemistry from the University of Cincinnati, I write unique and interesting articles focused on science, history, and current events.

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