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Oldest tomb found in Guatemala

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26 October 2012 by Luke McCormick

One of the oldest Mayan tombs ever discovered has been found in Guatemala.

Archeologists say the temple site in Retalhuleu in western Guatemala is thought to be that of an ancient ruler or religious leader.

Scientists named the occupant K'utz Chman, which means Grandfather Vulture in the language because of a vulture-headed figure found at the site.

A collection of jade jewels, including a necklace portraying a vulture-headed human figure, was also found.

The vulture-headed figure represented power and economic status.

Government archeologist Miguel Orrego told the BBC that carbon dating indicated the tomb was built between 700 and 400BC.

"He was a big chief," said Mr Orrego. "He bridged the gap between the Olmec and Mayan cultures in central America."

Reuters news agency cited historians who said this ruler may have been the first to introduce the buildings of pyramids and carving of sculptures depicting royal families, acts that later became characteristic of Mayan culture.

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