Daniel Eduardo Aquino Lara (centre), director of the National Museum of Guatemala, describes the hieroglyphic text on La Corona Altar 5. It is a rare artifact that will be featured in the Royal BC Museum’s exhibition Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises, opening this Friday (May 17). Shalu Mehta/Black Press

Daniel Eduardo Aquino Lara (centre), director of the National Museum of Guatemala, describes the hieroglyphic text on La Corona Altar 5. It is a rare artifact that will be featured in the Royal BC Museum’s exhibition Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises, opening this Friday (May 17). Shalu Mehta/Black Press

VIDEO: Royal BC Museum unveiling rare artifacts in upcoming Maya exhibit

La Corona Altar 5 depicts story of king and dynasties

As the Royal BC Museum prepares for another exhibition that will take visitors back in time, artifacts have slowly been unveiled.

One of the stunning pieces the museum uncrated ahead of this Friday’s opening of Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises, is La Corona Altar 5 – from the year 544 CE – which was discovered in the jungle in northern Guatemala, 700 kilometres away from cities.

Hieroglyphic text on the altar tells the story of a king, Chak Tok Ich’aak, who led the fight against the Tikal Dynasty, allowing the Kaanul Dynasty to become the new leaders.

Later on, Chak Tok Ick’aak goes on to become a very well-known, powerful leader.

According to the director of the National Museum of Guatemala, Daniel Eduardo Aquino Lara, the altar helps piece together and confirm significant research around the La Corona archaeological site.

READ MORE: Victoria museum’s Maya exhibition stars rare artifacts never seen outside of Guatemala

“We have something relevant to construct the nation’s history of Guatemala,” Lara said. “It confirmed how complex Mayan society was in the past.”

Lara said the hieroglyphics on the altar also show how different communities and aspects of Mayan society came together for a larger goal — not unlike today, where smaller and larger powers form alliances.

“In the beginning of the 20th century many archaeologists thought the ancient Maya just prayed and celebrated ceremonies,” Lara said. “Now we know they were a very complex society, they had a very stratified society as well and had a lot of changes during the time.”

The altar depicts an image of Chak Tok Ich’aak carrying a scepter with a double-headed snake and two deities who protect the local La Corona dynasty.

A team of archaeologists from Guatemala and the USA uncovered the altar in 2017 and 2018 when researching and investigating a pyramid structure that was buried under earth and trees.

The altar was found two years ago inside the pyramid structure and has now travelled to Victoria for Canadians and tourists to see.

READ ALSO: One Victoria family contributed 20 per cent of Royal BC Museum’s collection

“In this case, the monuments don’t change history but give us more elements to understand details about relationships, how the politics were and what was going on in the Late Classic period 13 to 15 centuries ago,” Lara said. “For Guatemala, it’s an opportunity to share the relevant history and how centuries of research and preserving our cultural heritage can be shared with people.”

Maya: The Great Jaguar Rises runs at the Royal BC Museum from May 17 to Dec. 31. It spotlights the mystery, legacy and resilience of one of the world’s great civilizations, the Maya of Central America.

The exhibition boasts the world’s largest and most impressive display of Maya objects including jade, ceramic, gold, stone and textile artifacts never before seen outside of Guatemala.

shalu.mehta@goldstreamgazette.com



editor@mondaymag.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter

Royal BC Museum

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Nanaimo author Haley Healey recently launched her second book, ‘Flourishing and Free: More Stories of Trailblazing Women of Vancouver Island.’ (Photo courtesy Kristin Wenberg)
Nanaimo author pens second book on ‘trailblazing’ Vancouver Island women

Haley Healey’s ‘Flourishing and Free’ follows her 2020 debut ‘On Their Own Terms’

Saanich author Hannalora Leavitt hopes her new book, This Disability Experience, helps to dispel the ‘otherness’ that often surrounds people with disabilities. (Jane Skrypnek/News Staff)
Vancouver Island author demystifying disability and dismantling otherness

Hannalora Leavitt, who lives with a visual impairment, wants to change how people look at disability

Michael Demers, performing here as a member of The Lonely, died May 1 after a year-long battle with leukemia. (Photo by Benji Duke)
Victoria music community mourning Michael Demers

Veteran singer-songwriter, co-founder of The Lonely dies at 63 due to leukemia

The Royal B.C. Museum has added a tamba dining set, used by a Punjabi man on his voyage to Canada in 1927, to its ‘100 Objects of Interest’ online collection. (Courtesy of Royal B.C. Museum)
Punjabi dining set added to Royal B.C. Museum’s ‘100 Objects of Interest’ collection

Set used by Indar Singh Gill on his voyage from Punjab to Canada in 1927

Victoria-born musician Bryce Dane Soderberg took to Instagram Monday to call out the Greater Victoria School District on its proposed cuts to elementary and middle school music programs. (Bryce Dane Soderberg/Instagram)
Victoria-born Lifehouse vocalist calls out SD61 on proposed music cuts

‘It will be a big loss to future generations’ Bryce Dane Soderberg posted to his Instagram

Musqueam and Qualicum First Nations artist, Mathew Andreatta, next to several of his ongoing projects, including carvings and illustrations. (Submitted photo)
Island artist considers art a means to reconnect with his Indigenous identity

Andreatta thought of TOSH as a space of learning and creation

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong are presenting an online reading on May 9. (Photos courtesy Joni Marcolin/Heather Armstrong)
Nanaimo playwrights present online Mother’s Day script readings

Nicolle Nattrass and Michael Armstrong to read from in-progress plays

Marianne Turley is one of this year’s City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award winners for Honour in Culture. (Bulletin file photo)
Longtime Vancouver Island Symphony board member gets posthumous culture award

Marianne Turley receives City of Nanaimo Culture and Heritage Award for Honour in Culture

The CVAC Fine Arts Show is always something to see and 2021 promises to be no different, as they adopt a fully multimedia approach. (File photo)
Cowichan Valley Fine Arts Show goes multimedia for 2021

The show, which runs from May 1-22 will be available both in person and online.

Dinner After a Death, a painting by Sooke artist Bryan Cathcart is part of a collection featuring his work at the Outsiders and Others Gallery in Vancouver. (Contributed - Bryan Cathcart)
Sooke artist finds creativity by expanding artistic horizons

Bryan Cathcart, 26, featured at Vancouver gallery

Viking-inspired fantasy writer Joshua Gillingham of Nanaimo and Seattle-based Islamic science fiction editor Muhammad Aurangzeb Ahmad are co-editing ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star.’ (Photos submitted, illustration by Lada Shustova/Figue)
Nanaimo author co-editing historical anthology connecting Vikings and Muslims

Joshua Gilligham presents ‘Althingi – The Crescent and the Northern Star’

Saltair-based writer, Krista May. (Janet Kelly photo)
Island writers make long-list for 2021 CBC Short Story Prize

Krista May and Angie Ellis among 33 finalists selected out of over 3,000 entrants

Most Read