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date: 14 December 2019


  • Merle Greene Robertson


Site of Pre-Columbian Maya ceremonial centre in the foothills of the Sierra de Palenque mountains, Chiapas, Mexico. During the 7th and 8th centuries ad Palenque was the most important city on the far western periphery of the Maya world. Although the area was inhabited in the Late Pre-Classic period (c. 300 250), only a small group of people lived there. At the height of its importance, in the Late Classic period ( 600–c. 900), however, at least 10,000 people lived there at one time. The site comprises a palace, a ballcourt and several temples sited in groups scattered over a large area.

The architecture at Palenque is both unique and diverse, including the largest surviving Maya palace complex (see fig.). The palace, dominated by a three-storey tower, was built in stages over a period of two centuries. The first stage, at the level of the plaza floor, was later connected to buildings on the upper terrace by subterranean passageways. The earliest building on the upper level was House E, the only known structure at Palenque without a roof-comb. It was also unique in that the entire whitewashed west façade was covered in patterns of flowers resembling those found on codices. House E was used for the coronation of several Palenque kings and includes a plaque depicting the transfer of rulership from Lady Zac-Kuk to her 12-year-old son Pacal (...

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