Palenque’s Tomb “News”

A painted ancestor, perhaps Kan Bahlam, from the Temple XX tomb. Drawing by M. G. Robertson.
Many of the recent headlines about a new tomb discovery at Palenque are a bit misleading, to say the least. The painted tomb within Temple XX was first found and remotely photographed in 1999 by the PARI Proyecto de las Cruces Project, led by the late great Merle Greene Robertson. The recent small press frenzy was prompted by an post from INAH Noticias announcing the lowering of a video camera into the sealed chamber.

It will be very interesting to learn more about the tomb’s contents and occupant once the chamber is opened and carefully documented (that occasion will be newsworthy). As I mention in our book Palenque: Eternal City of the Maya, there’s some circumstantial evidence that it dates to the middle years of the dynastic history, not quite so early as some have said. I believe Merle also thought such date a date, in the sixth century, was also most likely. The painted figures on the walls of the tomb are in a very curious and unusual style, but iconographically they are very similar to the ancestors depicted in stucco relief in the far more famous tomb of K’inich Janab Pakal.

A few on-line resources on the Temple XX tomb, long available:

Mesoweb’s reports on Temple XX tomb

Explorer’s Club report by Merle Greene Robertson, 2004

Mesoweb report on Temple XX architecture by Rudy Larios

Archaeology Magazine’s article on PARI work at Palenque

3 thoughts on “Palenque’s Tomb “News”

  1. Bruce Love June 26, 2011 / 2:41 PM

    Thank you David, for this very important and timely clarification of details surrounding the history of exploration at Temple XX, and for taking the time to give us the appropriate references.


  2. Damien Marken July 5, 2011 / 6:48 PM

    I won’t comment on the reasoning given for why the Temple XX tomb has not been excavated. However, the video of the ceramics and murals indicate that the tomb is nearly contemporaneous with, though a bit later than the burial discovered by Ruz in Temple XVIII-A (Cascada phase).

    Damien Marken

  3. David Stuart September 19, 2012 / 7:47 PM

    Reblogged this on Maya Decipherment and commented:

    INAH recently announced the opening of the early tomb in Temple XX at Palenque. This MD post from June, 2011 provides a bit of useful context.

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