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Excavations in Palenque uncover new archaeological treasure

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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. Sign up for the Yucatán Roundup, a free newsletter, which delivers the week's top headlines every Monday.
Palenque is one of the most spectacular archaeological sites in all of Mesoamerica, with visitors comparing it to the likes of Tikal, Copan, and Calakmul. Photo: Carlos Rosado van der Gracht / Yucatán Magazine

Archaeologists working in the ancient Maya city of Palenque in Chiapas have uncovered several fascinating finds.

Among them is a stucco head representing the corn deity Yum Kaax. 

This discovery is especially significant given the rarity of sculpted depictions of this corn god, who is usually portrayed pictorially in ceramic or through the use of his glyph or other symbols. 

Given the east-facing orientation of the find, researchers believe that this rendering is intended to safeguard new corn plantations as they receive their first rays of the sun. 

“This discovery reinforces the idea that the Maya of Palenque closely associated astronomical phenomena with cycles of birth, death, and rebirth,” said an INAH archaeologist, Arnoldo González Cruz.

Another recent discovery includes the funerary remains of a noblewoman discovered when archaeologists were surveying land for the construction of new bathrooms. 

Earlier: Palenque, the magnificent realm of King Pakal the Great

“Measurements of the pelvis tell us that we are looking at the remains of a woman, and a noble one at that given the aesthetic deformations visible on her skull,” said another INAH archaeologist, Edgar Vázquez López.

The Maya performed different types of cranial deformations including the flattening of the front of the skull through several methods.

The most common of these included the attachment of a wooden plank on a young child’s still relatively soft forehead. 

Palenque has been the sight of many great archaeological discoveries since the 19th century, including the unearthing of the monumental tomb of Pakal the Great, found inside the Temple of Inscriptions. 

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

During antiquity, the city was known as Lakamha, meaning “big water.” The site was first settled in the 3rd century BC but did not reach its peak until the rule of K’inich Janaab Pakal, the aforementioned Pakal the Great.

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