Tiny camera reveals the inside of a Mayan tomb that has been sealed for 1,500 years

A tiny, remote-controlled camera has been lowered into an early Mayan tomb that has been sealed for 1,500 years.

Extraordinary footage of the tomb at the Palenque archaeological site in southern Mexico revealed an apparently intact funeral chamber with red frescoes, pottery and pieces of a funerary shroud made of jade and mother of pearl.

It also showed a series of nine figures depicted in black on a vivid, blood-red background.

Archaeologists say the images from one of the earliest ruler’s tombs found at Palenque will shed new light on the early years of the once-great city state.

The National Institute of Anthropology and History said archaeologists have known about the tomb since 1999, but have been unable to enter it because the pyramid standing above it is unstable and breaking into the chamber could damage the murals.

It said the floor appears to be covered with detritus and it is not immediately evident in the footage if the tomb contains recognisable remains.

But archaeologist Martha Cuevas said the jade and shell fragments seen on the video are ‘part of a funerary costume’.

The chamber was found in a heavily-deteriorated pyramid complex known as the Southern Acropolis, in a jungle-covered area of Palenque not far from the Temple of Inscriptions, where the tomb of a later ruler, Pakal, was found in the 1950s.

While Pakal’s tomb featured a famous and heavily carved sarcophagus, no such structure is seen in the footage of the tomb released yesterday.

The institute said in a statement that ‘it is very probable that the fragmented bones are lying directly on the stones of the floor’.

But Dr Cuevas said the discovery shed new light on early rulers, and its proximity to other burial sites suggested the tomb may be part of a funerary complex.

‘All this leads us to consider that the Southern Acropolis was used as a royal necropolis during that period,’ she said.

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