Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya
Sunday, June 15, 1952. Having spent four years clearing a secret passage inside Palenque's Temple of the Inscriptions, Mexican archaeologist Alberto Ruz gazed into a vaulted chamber. There, beneath a gigantic carved stone block, he would make a spectacular discovery: the intact burial of King Pakal, complete with jade jewelry and an exquisite burial mask.
Pakal was one of the greatest ancient rulers and the most prominent among a long line of monarchs who held sway at Palenque from AD 300 to 800. This "queen of Maya cities," as Palenque has been called, fell into ruin and was abandoned along with other great urban centers when Maya civilization suffered a mysterious collapse more than 1000 years ago.
Through the eyes of David and George Stuart, we travel with pioneer artists and archaeologists from the eighteenth century on as they rediscovered Palenque and attempted, in the oppressive tropical heat, to document the city's graceful and ornate palaces, temples, bas-reliefs, and hieroglyphic inscriptions. These inscriptions lay largely unread until, in the late twentieth century, major breakthroughs in decipherment revealed Palenque's history. David Stuart, one of the leading decipherers, portrays a lost world of palace intrigue, of brilliant architects, of gods and revered ancestors.
Today Palenque, proclaimed a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is a place of new reverence and relevance for millions of modern Maya, New Age spiritualists, and all those fascinated by the history of the Maya.
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The King of Kings
A City Fades Away
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accession Ajaw Ajen Yohl Mat Alberto Ruz Lhuillier ancestors ancient Maya archaeologist architecture Armendariz Baakal Blom buildings Calakmul carved Catherwood central century ceramic Chiapas Classic Maya Classic period Comalcalco construction Copan Cross Group death decades decorated dedicated deity depicted Dupaix dynasty Early Classic excavations figures Foliated Cross glyphs House A-D images important Inscriptions K'an Joy Chitam K'atun K'inich Ahkal Mo K'inich Janab Pakal K'inich K'an Joy K'inich Kan Bahlam kingdom Late Classic later Lord maize Maudslay Maya area Mesoamerican Mexico monuments Nahb Otolum Palace Tablet Palenque king Palenque Triad Palenque's Palenque's history panel perhaps piers plate platform political portraits pyramid Rafinesque record reign ritual royal ruins ruler rulers of Palenque Ruz Lhuillier sarcophagus Schele sculptures slab stairway Stephens stone structure stucco symbol Tabasco Temple XIX Temple XVII Temple XXI Teotihuacan three temples throne Tikal tomb Tonina Triad gods Usumacinta River Waldeck wall Yaxchilan