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Mexican Archaeologists Reveal Information on Sarcophagus
Posted In: Other Exciting News  1/31/11
By: Yona Williams

It has been more than 1,300 years since the mortal remains of Mayan ruler K’inich Janaab’ Pakal was placed into a crypt at the Temple of the Inscriptions. His final resting place of the ancient city of Palenque has been studied by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), which has recently concluded the proper placement of a stone slab that covers the sarcophagus.

Chiapas is the location of the Palenque Archaeological Zone Program, which involves the consolidation of Temple XX, restoration of Casa C at The Palace, and other small maintenance tasks throughout the archaeological site. Also, the collections that have been recently updated are being relocated to a new warehouse. The latest information will be entered into the database.

In regards to the latest news to come out of the region, Pakal II is in the spotlight. He was a Maya leader whose tale is told through hieroglyphic inscriptions at Palenque. The hieroglyphics reveal that he died in 683. Many years passed and a Mexican archaeologist named Alberto Ruz Lhulllier uncovered the crypt and spent four years excavating the site. It was on June 12th 1952 that he found the funerary chamber of the former leader.

There was an impressive slab of stone that was sculpted to cover the sarcophagus. Around the remains, nine warriors made out of stucco served as what was described as 'guardians.' The slab measures a little over 2 meters wide and 3.6 meters long. It weighed 7 tons. During the 1950s, the slab was lifted up so that archeologists could explore the interior of the final resting place, which held the remains of the Mayan ruler.  

The public was allowed to view the site at one time, but visitations ceased in 2004 when excessive humidity and high temperature threatened the tomb. Conservation of the slab and other features of the crypt became a hot topic in 2008 when the National Institute of Anthropology and History supported an interdisciplinary project that paid attention to such details, like stucco reliefs and other architectural features.

With the help of a penetration radar device, the funerary space of Pakal II and the slab was better assessed. Scientists could detect any fissures or other details that could compromise the removal of the slab. One scan revealed the thickness of the single block of sedimentary rock, and that it did not show any cracks or weaknesses.

Researchers are working hard to make sure the site does not suffer any damage and that the crypt can be conserved as quickly as possible.

The edge of the Temple of the Inscriptions slab is carved with a lengthy glyphic inscription that starts on the southern side of the monument. It states that Pakal was born on December 23rd 603 AD and died on August 28th 683 AD. The words tell that Pakal was the successor of the dynasty because his ancestors ordered it. They were referred to as the "Wise Lords of the First Serpent." The eastern side continued to highlight narrations. The carving of the sarcophagus is mentioned. More writing refers to the "entrance to the path."


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