National Geographic : 1988 Oct
U WALTERALVA; PAINTING BY NED SEIDLER A royal mausoleum comes to light HE DID NOT GO ALONE to his grave. The warrior-priest lay surroundedby men and women-and even his faithful dog-who had served him well in life. An areaof dirt andrubble surroundedby mud brick sug gested that the platform had been opened and resealed after its construction.Twelve feet down, archaeologistscame upon the skeleton of a man about20 years old with a gilded copper helmet and cop pershield, whom they dubbed the guardian(1). Fragmentsof roofing beams (2) were dated to aboutA.D . 290. A few feet lower, copper strappingand the imprint of planking mark the warrior-priest'scoffin (3). Buried at his head and feet, two women (4,5), about 20, possibly were wives or concu bines. Flanking the central coffin lie two men (6,7), about 40, one buried with the dog. They lie to the right of the excavated coffin (above) with the other man at left; the warrior-priest'sbones, hard ened with acrylic resin, have been removed. An enduringmystery in volves feet missingfrom sev eral of the tomb's occupants. Both feet were absent in the figure called the guardian. Moreover, one of the men and one of the women buried next to the ruler lacked leftfeet. Were they amputated to sym bolize that,even in death, they would never leave their mas ter? Clues from the continuing excavation may shed more light on such questions.