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The Site of Palenque...with rain

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large_938978_13681854649702.jpgKapok tree, a very important tree for the MayasPalenque is called a fairly small site compared to some of the others (like Tikal). It does however tell much about it's history through the hieroglyphics that are found there. They estimate they excavated about 10% of the entire site so far.

Same as the other Maya cities, Palenque was abandoned by the Mayan people because of lack of rain/water. Mayan civilization prospered, but they cut every single piece of jungle to do so. Because of the lack of trees (so it is told) the rain stopped falling (after several centuries). Since they were dependent of the growing of maíz, that would not grow without the rain, there was a food shortage, and they were forced to leave.

It was fairly quiet at the site in the early morning, and because of that we could make pictures without a lot of people on it.large_938978_13681854554221.jpgTemple of Inscriptions (the big one) and the Tomb of the Red Queen (the one with the roof)There is standing a huge Kapok tree. Kapok trees (Ceiba) are very important for Mayas. They symbolize the Tree of Life. The Maya believed that a great Kapok tree stood at the center of the earth. It's canopy symbolized the heavens and its flowers symbolized the stars. It was a connection of Earth, Underworld and Cosmos.

The most important discovery was the tomb of Pakal, in the Temple of Inscriptions. There are a lot of texts/hieroglyphics that tell a lot about the city and the ruler. Inside the sarcophagus of Pakal, they found a jade mask, a lot of jewelry and other valuables. The one who discovered the tomb is buried on the site as well, opposite of the Temple.

Pakal's mother, The Red Queen, ruled the city when Pakal wasn't yet old enough.large_938978_13681868927607.jpgThe Palace, from the side, with the observation towerShe is buried in a lower structure next to the Temple of Inscriptions. When they found her, the the coffin was covered with mercury, hence the red is what the guide told us.

Then there is the Palace. It's a big complex of different buildings and courtyards, connected by long hallways. Those hallways were decorated as well as the walls and stairs of the Palace itself. Just as we walked around and started our way to the palace, it started to rain...Rain season wasn't supposed to start untill May 7th ;) It was just a few minutes though...and not much, more a bit of misty drizzle.... There is also a big watchtower/observation tower. The building itself is very thoughtout. Like the snake in Chichén Itzá, they build the colomns of a specific hallway exactly so the sun made light and shadow play with the equinox, and it shone straight through the chamber on the winter and summer solstice, or windows were they could see sunrise and sunset on specific dates.large_938978_13681854784160.jpgTemple of the Cross. That's the way up.

Many important Maya buildings were laid out in accordance with astronomy. They aligned them based on the position of sun, moon and stars at specific times of year. Not only solstices and equinoxes were important. Temples and pyramids were build in such a way that the sun, moon and stars would be visible from the top or through certain windows at important times of the year, like when the rain season started.

After the palace we had some free time to see the Temple complex. There are three temples, Temple of the Cross, Temple of the sun, and Temple of the Foliated Cross. We climbed one of htem, the biggest one, Temple of the Cross. It was even steper then the Governors Palace in Uxmal, and several stairs higher as well...together with the sun (and about 35 degrees Celsius) it was a pretty heavy climb...but the view was more then worth it!

After several pictures and a way down, we went on to the museaum close by. You can walk through a little bit of jungle. At the museum we saw the tomb of Pakal. That was the main reason we went there. they also have quite a few valuables, a maquette of the palace, and several hieroglyphics, statues, tablets with drawings, and totems.


Posted by Astreia 17:00 Archived in Mexico

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