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Experts Mayan altar hints at ancient intrigue

GUATEMALA CITY — Archaeologists say an altar found at the La Corona site in Guatemala suggests the Mayan dynasty of Kaanul, known as the Snake Kings, acted like its namesake in slowly squeezing the rival kingdom of Tikal.

A team led by Marcello Canuto of Tulane University uncovered the carved stone altar in the northern Peten region near the Mexico border.

The altar is dated A.D. 544 and depicts the Tikal ruler Chak Took Ich’aak invoking two local gods from a shaft in the form of a snake. The same man appears 20 years later as a vassal of the Kaanul dynasty and the ruler of the larger, nearby city of Peru-Waka.

Canuto said Friday the altar suggest Kaanul’s eventual victory was the result of decades of politicking, not just a battle.