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Some Maya rulers may have taken generations to attract subjects

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Commoners may have played an unappreciated part in the rise of an ancient Maya royal dynasty.

Self-described “divine lords” at a Maya site called Tamarindito in what’s now Guatemala left glowing hieroglyphic tributes to themselves as heads of a powerful “Foliated Scroll” dynasty.

But new findings indicate that the bigwigs at Tamarindito spent many generations waiting for their subjects to show up, or perhaps hatching plans to attract followers, say archaeologist and epigrapher Markus Eberl of Vanderbilt University in Nashville and colleagues.

Tamarindito’s kings founded their capital by about the year 400 as a mere hamlet of perhaps a few dozen individuals, consisting of a royal court and a couple of residential clusters for non-elites, the scientists report November 4 in Latin American Antiquity.

It took about 150 years for enough people to trickle in to Tamarindito to enable the site’s rulers to expand their power, Eberl says. At that point, Foliated Scroll rulers founded a smaller, second capital and several other settlements in northern…

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