Tags: Chiapas, Maya ruins, Mexico, Palenque

Date: March 23, 2019

After our successful toucan viewing we had breakfast and entered the Palenque site. Next to the entrance are a couple of large pyramids that are the tombs of important Mayas. The first one contains the tomb of a woman who was probably Lady Tz'akbu Ajaw. She was buried inside the white structure at the top of the stairs:

Inside the structure was a short corridor with a closed off chamber at the end:

The mummified body from the sarcophagus is no longer there but has been transferred to the large anthropological museum in Mexico City. Lady Tz'akbu Ajaw is also known as the Red Queen because she was covered in a red mineral called cinnabar (mercury sulfide). Traces of the red mineral are visible in the sarcophagus:

The remains have been dated to between year 600 and 700.

Next to the tomb of the Red Queen was another pyramid which was built as a funeral monument to the ruler K'inich Janaab' Pakal who was her husband. This structure was not open for visitors:

Right next to the large pyramid was a very large building known as the palace. The building had a tower on top that is believed to have been used for astronomical observations:

Through the grounds of Palenque runs a stream which is in part controlled by canals built by the Mayas:

In the 1970's Palenque was the center for some of the most important research into the deciphering of the Mayan writing. Workshops were held with scientists from many different disciplines - archaeologists, linguists, mathematicians, etc. - sitting down together and discussing the Mayan language and the meaning of the writing on the many steles found in Palenque. Here is FĂ©licie on the way up some stairs to have a look at some of the steles:

Here is a temple known as Temple of the Cross:

Palenque was one of the first Maya sites where we saw remains of residential buildings:

In addition to the many stone buildings and structures, Palenque also has a lovely picturesque nature trail along a cascading stream:

Overgrown remains of residential areas:

There were lots of iguanas everywhere:

A stone relief showing a long-snouted head:

As part of the Palenque site is a small museum containing artifacts that are too fragile or valuable to be left on the site. Here is a stele with remarkably well preserved hieroglyphs

Stone relief showing the ruler sitting in front of other warriors:

A stele with a lot of the original paint still visible:

Both the ruler Pakal and his wife wore jade masks in the graves. Here is a jade mask in the museum:

Necklaces of jade:

The museum contained a reconstruction of the burial chamber in the large pyramid, showing the reliefs of the chamber walls as well as the richly carved sarcophagus where the Maya ruler was buried. The carvings show the Mayan gods along with artifacts representing their function in the Mayan world, e.g. the fertility god was shown with cobs of maize and cocoa beans: