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Palenque (Mexico)


Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Palenque, Chiapas, Mexico

Mark Uttecht

The Maya civilization site of Palenque lies in the foothills of the Chiapas mountains of southern Mexico. Palenque is situated where several rivers come together at the foothills; there are several lovely waterfalls and pools. The modern Maya name for the site is Lakamha' or "Big Water".

Palenque was first occupied during the Early Classic (AD 200-600) and fell around 800 AD. In its heyday, Palenque was the capital city of Pakal the Great [ruled AD 615-683], one of the most powerful kings of central America in Late Classic times. The site includes some 1500 buildings within an area of a little under one square mile. Most of the buildings are arranged in 35 building groups; the majority of these buildings are visible only as mounds.

The most famous part of Palenque is the tomb of Pacal the Great, excavated by Alberto Ruz Llullier, who found the steps to it hidden beneath the Temple of the Inscription.

Excavations have been undertaken at Palenque since 1997 by El Proyecto Groupo de las Cruces (the Palenque Project), directed by Merle Greene Robertson and Alfonso Morales Cleveland.


Also see the Dynastic Rulers of Palenque

This glossary entry is part of the Guide to the Maya Civilization and the Dictionary of Archaeology.

Houston, Stephen D. 1996 Symbolic sweatbaths of the Maya: Architectural meaning in the Cross Group at Palenque, Mexico. Latin American Antiquity 7(2):132-151.

Robinson, Merle Green. 2002. Palenque (Chiapas, Mexico). pp 572-577 in Archaeology of Ancient Mexico and Central America: An Encyclopedia, Susan Toby Evans and David L. Webster, eds. Garland Publishing, Inc. New York.

Stuart, David and George Stuart. 2008. Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya. Thames and Hudson.

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