In 1997, the Chan Chich Archaeological Project excavated a Terminal Preclassic/Early Classic period Maya tomb at Chan Chich, Belize. Tomb 2 represents the earliest royal tomb in the Three Rivers Region of the east-central Yucatan Peninsula and has striking similarities to Burial 85 at Tikal, the tomb of the dynastic founder Yax Ehb' Xook. This paper describes Tomb 2 and its contents and considers its significance within the context of the significant political and cultural changes that marked the transition from the Late Preclassic to the Early Classic period. We argue that the tomb is an early example of a regional expression of elite competition for status and power in the Central Lowlands that included the use of a subcomplex of ceramics and exotic artifacts to express prestige. Tomb 2 is also an example of an early royal burial pattern that may be more widespread than believed but has been overlooked due to excavation bias.