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Palenque

Palenque (pälāng´kĕ), ancient city of the Maya in Chiapas, S Mexico, in the Usumacinta Valley. Its architectural elegance, adapted to tropical and topographical conditions, was a high point in the art of the Classic period. Stucco sculpturing and low-relief paneling reached their highest expression at Palenque. The Temple of Inscriptions, noted for its hieroglyphic tablets, is one of the best-preserved Mayan temples. Entablatures sloping inward and roofs slanting back to give a mansard effect show the great range of architectural concepts among the Maya. In 1952 an impressive tomb was uncovered under the Temple of the Inscriptions, demonstrating for the first time that the Maya pyramids served both as funerary structures and temple platforms. In recent years, many of the inscriptions at Palenque have been deciphered, revealing much of the dynastic history of the site. The texts at the Temple of Inscriptions indicate the tomb found there belongs to a leader named Pakal the Great, who ruled in AD 603–83.

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Palenque

Palenque the site of a former Mayan city in SE Mexico, south-east of present-day Villahermosa. The well-preserved ruins of the city, which existed from about ad 300 to 900, include notable examples of Mayan architecture and extensive hieroglyphic texts. The city's ancient name has been lost and it is now named after a neighbouring village.

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Palenque

Palenqueackee, Bacchae, baccy, cracky, Jackie, lackey, tacky, wacky •latchkey • talcy •cranky, Frankie, hanky, hanky-panky, lanky, manky, swanky, wanky, Yankee •Askey, Pulaski •Polanski • Blavatsky • Stanislavsky •ticky-tacky •Iraqi, Kawasaki, khaki, larky, malarkey, menarche, Nagasaki, narky, parky, raki, saké, saki, sarky, souvlaki, sparky, sukiyaki, teriyaki •passkey •matriarchy, patriarchy •diarchy • oligarchy • synarchy •hierarchy •Becky, recce, techie •Elkie • Palenque •Esky, pesky •Dostoevsky, Paderewski •achy, Blakey, flaky, quaky, shaky, snaky, wakey-wakey •headachy •beaky, cheeky, cliquey, cock-a-leekie, creaky, freaky, Geikie, Kon-Tiki, Leakey, leaky, peaky, reeky, sleeky, sneaky, squeaky, streaky, Thessaloníki, tiki, tzatziki

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Palenque

Palenque

Palenque is a principal Classic Maya site on the northern mountain slopes of Chiapas overlooking the coastal plain of the Gulf of Mexico. Palenque was explored in the late eighteenth century by a Spanish expedition, and subsequently was visited and described by John Lloyd Stephens in his Incidents of Travel in Central America, Chiapas, and Yucatán in 1841. Other nineteenth-and early twentieth-century archaeologists also recorded the site. The drawings and photographs of these early visitors have greatly benefited more recent scholars because of deterioration that has occurred in the intervening years.

Palenque rose to prominence after 640 under the leadership of Lord Shield Pacal and his son, Chan-Bahlum, and it dominated the western portion of the Maya world during much of the Late Classic period (ca. 600–900). The Temple of the Inscriptions—so named because of the lengthy hieroglyphic panels that adorn the walls—is the funerary monument to Pacal. Pacal's tomb lies deep within the pyramid. The sarcophagus portrays Pacal's fall into the underworld and depicts images of his ancestors.

Palenque is noted for its beautifully crafted inscriptions carved into limestone slabs. In contrast to other Classic Maya sites, where sculpted stone monuments were erected as freestanding stelae, at Palenque the finished tablets were mounted on the interior walls of the temples. Many of the inscriptions are devoted to genealogical affairs, enabling epigraphers to reconstruct a complete dynastic history of Palenque's ruling families. Moreover, with this data, scholars have gained further insight into the timing of military campaigns, alliances, birth-dates, and marriages and other rituals.

Palenque is also noted for its innovative architectural style. Architects used techniques such as the mansard (sloped inward) roof design and lattice roof comb to reduce the weight on walls. This enabled them to construct larger and lighter interior vaults in structures. The extensive complex known as the Palace, which is believed to have been an administrative center and residence for elites, utilizes mansard roof design. An astronomical observatory, a unique Mayan structure, rises four stories above.

By 800, Palenque, like other lowland Maya centers, had experienced a serious decline, and construction ceased. The center was abandoned around 820. Archaeological excavations and restorations continue at Palenque, as only a portion of this Maya city's structures have been recovered.

See alsoArchaeology; Maya, The; Stephens, John Lloyd.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

William M. Ferguson in collaboration with John Q. Royce, Maya Ruins of Mexico in Color (1977).

Linda Schele and David Freidel, A Forest of Kings (1990).

Additional Bibliography

Cobos, Rafael, ed. Culto funerario en la sociedad maya: Memoria de la Cuarta Mesa Redonda de Palenque. Mexico City: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia, 2004.

Marken, Damien B., ed. Palenque: Recent Investigations at the Classic Maya Center. Lanham, MD: AltaMira Press, 2007.

Navarrete, Carlos. Palenque, 1784: El inicio de la aventura arqueológica maya. Mexico City: Centro de Estudios Mayas, Instituto de Investigaciones Filológicas, Instituto de Investigaciones Antropológicas, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, 2000.

Robertson, Merle Greene. The Sculpture of Palenque. Vols. 1-4. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press, 1983–1991.

Schele, Linda, and Peter Mathews. The Code of Kings: The Language of Seven Sacred Maya Temples and Tombs. New York: Scribner, 1998.

Stuart, David. The Inscriptions from Temple XIX at Palenque: A Commentary. San Francisco, CA: Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute, 2005.

Tiesler, Vera, and Andrea Cucina, eds. Janaab' Pakal of Palenque: Reconstructing the Life and Death of a Maya Ruler. Tucson: University of Arizona Press, 2006.

                                         Janine Gasco

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