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WILL BODY SHED LIGHT ON ANCIENTS?

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Archaeologists have discovered a richly ornamented body in a burial ground reserved for Mayan rulers in Palenque that could yield valuable information about the lives of ancient people.

The find was announced late Thursday by archaeologist Arnaldo Gonzalez during a brief ceremony attended by President Carlos Salinas de Gortari.Palenque, in the southern state of Chiapas, is one of the most spectacular Mayan sites in Mexico.

Gonzalez said the tomb was discovered three weeks ago near Temple 13 in a burial ground for Palenque rulers during ancient Mayan times.

The remains of a person around 40 years old, sex still undetermined, were found Wednesday when the lid of a sarcophagus was lifted. Gonzalez said the remains, covered by a mummifying substance, were well preserved and dated to A.D. 600 to A.D. 800.

The body measured about 5 feet 7 inches, had a robust complexion and a deformed skull. The body of an adult woman and an adolescent were found nearby.

Gonzalez said the sarcophagus was carved out of rock and painted red.

The body had a jade mask encrusted with mother-of-pearl, a jade headdress, a chest ornament, jade bracelets and three plaques hanging from a waistband.

Other objects found included sea shells, obsidian knives, sewing needles made out of bone and plates that contained the remains of food.