Mayan ‘Red Queen’ revealed centuries after burial


The Tomb of the Red Queen at Palenque Temple XIII, shown in 2013. (photo: Anagoria)

MYSTERY WIRE — The Mayan temple that concealed the remains of “The Red Queen” hid her secrets for centuries. The entrance to the tomb wasn’t discovered until 1994, when a peculiar crack found during routine maintenance revealed a tunnel and sealed door.

The Mexican state of Chiapas is the site of the Maya city of Palenque, considered to be one of the biggest — and richest — city-states of Pre-Columbian Mexico.

Inside the tomb, a fine red powder covered the woman’s remains. Archaeologists determined it was cinnabar — the common term for mercuric sulfide. Thus was born the name, “The Red Queen.” Read her story here on

Later research speculates that the body may well have been a queen.

National Geographic writes:

All these conclusions fit with identifying the body as that of Pakal’s wife, Ix Tz’akb’u Ajaw, who came to Palenque from a nearby city to marry Pakal in the year 626. If the tombs of her sons, later rulers of Palenque, can be located, and their DNA tested and found to match hers, the Red Queen of Palenque will finally have a name once more.

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