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PALENQUE

PalenquePalenque Mayan Ruin in Chiapas

Palenque Bàak' in Modern Maya is a Maya archeological site near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas, located about 180 miles northeast of San Cristobal de Las Casas. It is a medium-sized site, much smaller than such huge sites as Tikal or Copán, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, roof comb and bas-relief carvings the Maya produced

Temple of the Cross

Much of the Early Classic history of the city still awaits the archaeologist's trowel. However, from the extent of the surveyed site and the reference to Early Classic rulers in the inscriptional record of the Late Classic, it is clear Palenque's history is much longer than we currently know. The fact that early ajaw (king or lord) and mythological beings used a variety of emblem glyphs in their titles indeed suggests a complex early history. For instance, K'uk' B'ahlam the supposed founder of the Palenque dynasty is called a Toktan Ajaw in the text of the Temple of the Foliated Cross.

 

The famous structures that we know today probably represent a rebuilding effort in response to the attacks by the city of Calakmul and its client states in 599 and 611. One of the main figures responsible for rebuilding Palenque and for a renaissance in the city's art and architecture is also one of the best-known Maya Ajaw, K'inich Janaab' Pakal (Pacal the Great), who ruled from 615 to 683. He is best known through his funerary monument, dubbed the Temple of Inscriptions after the lengthy text preserved in the temple's superstructure. At the time Alberto Ruz Lhuillier excavated Pakal's tomb it was the richest and best preserved of any scientifically excavated burial then known from the ancient Americas. It held this position until the discovery of the rich Moche burials at Sipan, Peru and the recent discoveries at Copan and Calakmul.

Palenque MexicoEarly Classic period

The first ajaw, or king, of B'aakal that we know of was K'uk Balam (Quetzal Jaguar), who governed for four years starting in the year 431. After him, a king came to power, nicknamed Gasparín by archaeologists. The two next kings were probably Gasparín's sons. Little was known about the first of these, B'utz Aj Sak Chiik, until 1994, when a tablet was found describing a ritual for the king. The first tablet mentioned his successor Ahkal Mo' Naab I as a teenage prince, and therefore it is believed that there was a family relation between them. For unknown reasons, Akhal Mo' Naab I had great prestige, so the Kings who succeeded him were proud to be his descendants.

 

When Ahkal Mo' Naab I died in 524, there was an interregnum of four years, before the following king was crowned en Toktán in 529. K'an Joy Chitam I governed for 36 years. His sons Ahkal Mo' Naab II and K'an B'alam I were the first kings who used the title Kinich, which means the great son. This word was used also by later kings. B'alam I was succeeded in 583 by Yok Iknal, who is supposedly his daughter. The inscriptions found in Palenque document a battle that occurred under her government in which troops from Calakmul invaded and sacked Palenque, a military feat without known precedents. These events took place on April 21, 599.

A second victory by Calakmul occurred some twelve years later, in 611, under the government of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat, son of Yol Iknal. In this occasion, the king of Calakmul entered Palenque in person, consolidating a significant military disaster, the which was followed by an epoch of political disorder. Aj Ne' Yohl Mat was to die in 612.

Palenque Chiapas MexicoLate Classic period

A view of the main plaza of Palenque from the Temple of the Foliated Cross. B'aakal began the Late Classic period in the throes of the disorder created by the defeats before Calakmul. The texts written in 680s are pessimistic: "Lost is the divine lady, lost is the king."[citation needed] These sources also tell of some fundamental rites that were not actually done. Mentions of the government at the time have not been found.

 

It is believed that after the death of Aj Ne' Yohl Mat, Janaab Pakal, sometimes called Pakal I, took power thanks to a political agreement. Janaab Pakal assumed the functions of the ajaw (king) but never was crowned. He was succeeded in 612 by his daughter, the queen Sak K'uk', who governed for only three years. It is considered that the dynasty was reestablished from then on, so B'aakal retook the path of glory and splendor.

 

The son of Janaab Pakal is the most famous of the Mayan kings, K'inich Janaab' Pakal, also known as Pakal the Great. Starting at 12 years of age, he reigned in Palenque from 615 to 683. Known as the favorite of the gods, he carried Palenque to new levels of splendor, in spite of having come to power when the city was at a low point. Pakal married the princess of Oktán in 624 and had two children.

 

During his government, most of the palaces and temples of Palenque were constructed; the city flourished as never before, eclipsing Tikal. The central complex, known as The Palace, was enlarged and remodeled on various occasions, notably in the years 654, 661, and 668. In this structure, is a text describing how in that epoch Palenque was newly allied with Tikal, and also with Yaxchilan, and that they were able to capture the six enemy kings of the alliance. Not much more had been translated from the text.

 

After the death of Pakal in 683, his older son K'inich Kan B'alam assumed the kingship of B'aakal, who in turn was succeeded in 702 by his brother K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II. The first continued the architectural and sculptural works that were begun by his father, as well as finishing the construction of the famous tomb of Pakal. Furthermore, he began ambitious projects, like the Group of the Crosses. Thanks to numerous works begun during his government, now we have portraits of this king, found in various sculptures. His brother succeeded him continuing with the same enthusiasm of construction and art, reconstructing and enlarging the north side of the Palace. Thanks to the reign of these three kings, B'aakal had a century of growing and splendor.

 

In 711, Palenque was sacked by the realm of Toniná, and the old king K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II was taken prisoner. It is not known what the final destination of the king was, and it is presumed that he was executed in Toniná. For 10 years there was no king. Finally, K'inich Ahkal Mo' Nab' III was crowned in 722. Although the new king belonged to the royalty, there is no reason to be sure that he was the direct inheritor direct of K'inich K'an Joy Chitam II. It is believed, therefore, that this coronation was a break in the dynastic line, and probably K'inich Ahkal Nab' arrived to power after years of maneuvering and forging political alliances. This king, his son, and grandson governed until the end of the century. Little is known about this period, except that, among other events, the war with Toniná continued, where there are hieroglyphics that record a new defeat of Palenque.

Abandonment of Palenque

During the 8th century, B'aakal came under increasing stress, in concert with most other Classic Mayan city-states, and there was no new elite construction in the ceremonial center sometime after 800. An agricultural population continued to live here for a few generations, then the site was abandoned and was slowly grown over by the forest. The district was very sparsely populated when the Spanish first arrived in the 1520s.

Palenque Art and architecture

The Palace, actually a complex of several connected and adjacent buildings and courtyards built up over several generations on a wide artificial terrace. The Palace houses many fine sculptures and bas-relief carvings in addition to the distinctive four-story tower.

Temple of Inscriptions Skull Temple Temple of Inscriptions

The Temple of Inscriptions was begun perhaps as early as 675 as the funerary monument of K'inich Janaab' Pakal. The temple superstructure houses the second longest glyphic text known from the Maya world (the longest is the Hieroglyphic Stairway at Copan). The Temple of Inscriptions records approximately 180 years of the city's history from the 4th through 12th K'atun. The focal point of the narrative records K'inich Janaab' Pakal's K'atun period-ending rituals focused on the icons of the city's patron deities prosaically known collectively as the Palenque Triad or individually as GI, GII, and GIII.

 

The Pyramid measure 60 meters wide 42.5 meters deep 27.2 meters high The Summit temple measure 25.5 meters wide 10.5 meters deep 11.4 meters high. The largest stones weigh 12 to 15 tons. These were on top of the Pyramid. The Total volume of pyramid and temple is 32,500 cu. meters.

 

In 1952 Alberto Ruz Lhuillier removed a stone slab in the floor of the back room of the temple superstructure to reveal a passageway (filled in shortly before the city's abandonment and reopened by archeologists) leading through a long stairway to Pakal's tomb. The tomb itself is remarkable for its large carved sarcophagus, the rich ornaments accompanying Pakal, and for the stucco sculpture decorating the walls of the tomb. Unique to Pakal's tomb is the psychoduct, which leads from the tomb itself, up the stairway and through a hole in the stone covering the entrance to the burial. This psychoduct is perhaps a physical reference to concepts about the departure of the soul at the time of death in Maya eschatology where in the inscriptions the phrase ochb'ihaj sak ik'il (the white breath road-entered) is used to refer to the leaving of the soul. The much-discussed iconography of the sarcophagus lid depicts Pakal in the guise of one of the manifestations of the Maize God emerging from the maw of the underworld. A similar scene of emergence is seen on the San Francisco Capstone which depicts an enthroned Maize God sprouting from the portal maw.

Temples of the Cross group

The Temple of the Cross, Temple of the Sun, and Temple of the Foliated Cross. This is a set of graceful temples atop step pyramids, each with an elaborately carved relief in the inner chamber depicting two figures presenting ritual objects and effigies to a central icon. Earlier interpretations had argued that the smaller figure was that of K'inich Janaab' Pakal while the larger figure was K'inich Kan B'ahlam. However, it is now known based on a better understanding of the iconography and epigraphy that the central tablet depicts two images of Kan B'ahlam. The smaller figure shows K'inich Kan B'ahlam during a rite of passage ritual at the age of six while the larger is of his accession to kingship at the age of 48. These temples were named by early explorers; the cross-like images in two of the reliefs actually depict the tree of creation at the center of the world in Maya mythology.

Temples XIX and XXI
  • The Aqueduct constructed with great stone blocks with a three-meter-high vault to make the Otulum River flow underneath the floor of Palenque's main plaza.
  • The Temple of The Lion at a distance of some 200 meters south of the main group of temples; its name came from the elaborate bas-relief carving of a king seated on a throne in the form of a jaguar.
  • Structure XII with a bas-relief carving of the God of Death.
  • Temple of the Count another elegant Classic Palenque temple, which got its name from the fact that early explorer Jean Frederic Waldeck lived in the building for some time, and Waldeck claimed to be a Count.

The site also has a number of other temples, tombs, and elite residences, some a good distance from the center of the site, a court for playing the Mesoamerican Ballgame, and an interesting stone bridge over the Otulum River some distance below the Aqueduct.

 

Excert from Wikipedia.com - http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Palenque

 

 

 

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