Peering into the Past: Camera Looks Inside Ancient Mayan Tomb

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REUTERS / INAH / Handout

The inside of a tomb of a Mayan ruler, that has been sealed for 1,500 years, is seen in southern Mexico.

Too fragile to excavate, archaeologists had to rely on artificial eyes to peek inside the burial chamber.

But when they lowered the video camera down, they were surely glad they hadn’t ruined the tomb with major digging. Scientists found a fully intact tomb that laid untouched and undiscovered for more than 1,500 years. They gazed upon red frescoes, pottery, and funeral arrangements that had been strikingly well-preserved.

REUTERS / INAH / Handout

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The tomb is located inside a pyramid in the southern Mexico town of Palenque. Pyramids are notoriously difficult to infiltrate considering their fragility and age. In fact, scientists discovered this particular tomb in 1999, and until now had not found a way to penetrate its thick walls without compromising the structure.

The archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History lowered the matchbox-sized camera down through a hole in the top of the pyramid to gaze upon its contents. They believe it contains the remains of a Mayan ruler who died around 550 A.D.

REUTERS / INAH / Handout

While they found no sarcophagus or remains, they predict the images brought back to the surface – of black figures, red drawings, and jade and pearl stones – will help paint a picture of the Mayan ruler likely buried inside. Hopefully they can do it before the Mayans’ prediction of the end of the world in 2012.

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