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Tuesday, November 28, 2023

Archaeologists discover Maya tomb on the grounds of hotel near Palenque

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The remains of a Maya noble were discovered near the archaeological site of Palenque earlier this month. Photo: Courtesy

A team of archaeologists has announced the discovery of the tomb of a member of Palenque’s elite on the grounds of a hotel. 

The tomb was discovered just over 13 feet underground and also contained several objects, including ceramic vessels and obsidian. It is made of slabs of limestone and likely has inscriptions that could reveal details about its occupant.

The presence of obsidian is especially notable, as it was most likely imported at a considerable cost from what today are the highlands of Guatemala. 

The site of the discovery is roughly 1.5 miles away from the core of Palenque, which further confirms the size of this ancient metropolis. 

As the tomb was discovered just last week, no information regarding its age has been disclosed. But given the occupation of the site, it likely dates to at least a millennia ago.

Earlier: A new power rises in the mountains, the mighty Toniná 

Palenque is the name by which today we know the ancient Maya city of Lakamha. 

The site was first settled in the 3rd century BC but did not reach its peak until the rule of K’inich Janaab Pakal, more commonly known as Pakal the Great.

A bas-relief reproduction depicting Upakal K’inich, who reigned during the turbulent 8th century CE. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

In the early 8th century, Palenque was invaded by the kingdom of Toniná, and its king, K’inich K’an Joy Chitam II, was taken prisoner. Little is known about this period. but it is presumed that he was executed in Toniná.

Pakal the Great reigned for an astonishing 68 years and was responsible for some of Palenque’s most notable monumental architecture. But he is perhaps most well remembered for his depiction on the carved lid of his sarcophagus.

The massive lid of Pakal’s carved stone sarcophagus shows the king emerging along with the cosmic tree as he is reborn into eternal life. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

It is interesting to note that Pakal was preceded to the throne by his mother, Queen Muwaan Mat, also known as Lady Sak Kʼukʼ. Other examples of queens do exist in the Mayan world, such as Wak Chanil Ajaw of El Naranjo, but are overall rare.

Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Carlos Rosado van der Gracht
Born in Mérida, Carlos Rosado van der Gracht is a Mexican/Canadian blogger, photographer and adventure expedition leader. He holds degrees in multimedia, philosophy, and translation from universities in Mexico, Canada and Norway.
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