W4 Archaeology in the News Post

Arhcaeology News in Mexico Shows Mayan King Pakal Swam to Underworld, Didn’t Use Spaceship

by Christina Silva 07-26-16 9:12AM


“There is this allegorical meaning for water … where the cycle of life begins and ends.” These were the closing words, spoken by Pedro Sanchez Nava of the National Institute of Anthropology and History, of the article I found about a new discovery at the ruin site of Palenque in Mexico.

The Temple of Inscriptions is home to the resting place Mayan leader Pakal. Previously, researchers believed that the carvings on Pakal’s grave showed him in a type of spaceship, meaning that they believed he would be travelling to other worlds in his death. The National Anthropology and History Institute announced on Monday that there has been a new discovery of canals built under the Temple of Inscriptions, and carvings found in the grave saying that a god “will guide the dead toward the underworld, by submerging into the water so they will be received there.” This discovery was made with the help of a camera-equipped robot, which discovered these underground canals through sonars. This waterway was part of a larger drainage or water supply system for the Mayan people.

Arnoldo Gonzalez de la Cruz, directory of archaeology in Palenque, said that there is nothing to do with spaceships. This new evidence supports the idea that the Temple of Inscriptions was built because of the existence of the spring, reproducing the route through the flowing water, which was valued by other pre-Hispanic people in Mexico, that Pakal hoped to take to the underworld.

Drawing on what I’ve learned from this course so far, I can conclude a few things from this article. First off, this excavation is partially using mortuary archaeology as well as burial analysis: revealing social status through analysis of grave-goods, and looking at how the ancient Mayan culture treated the dead (in this case, however, it is strictly how they treated the dead king), and what this tells us about their culture. Clearly, the discovery of the canals underneath the temple show us that the ancient Mayans believed that the path to their afterlife was through the water. I also noted that the Temple of Inscriptions is a feature.

Lastly, using facts from the article and the things I’ve learned from this weeks lectures, I could draw conclusions about the Mayan society. There was obvious inequality, the king had his own temple! The article didn’t give any information about other ranks or prestige. I wasn’t sure, using only this article as my source of knowledge, what type of society the Mayans were, so I turned to (http://www.lost-civilizations.net/mayan-society.html) for a little help. It said that the Mayan civilization was not one unified empire, but rather a multitude of separate entities with a common cultural background. These separate entities were politically sovereign states. Drawing from the knowledge that the excavation site was a state, I can now conclude that the king was the “centralized government” who enforced whatever type of laws there were, that there definitely was social stratification, a large population, and economic specialization.

2 thoughts on “W4 Archaeology in the News Post

  1. I find it very interesting that we had picked the same article but from different websites but came to different conclusions. I had never thought about what type of archaeology this might be but it is very clear now that this could be considered Mortuary Archaeology. My article also had said that a similar waterway had been found in Teotihuacan so I had related all of my conclusions to this site because we had learned much about their culture. But I really like how you chose to investigate more into the Mayan culture and was able to conclude more about their social and economic structure and relate it to the findings in Palenque.

  2. I find the similar news of this one on another website. I think it is really interesting to see how different people understand the same artifacts based on their own perspectives. And these understand might change as researchers gather more information about those ancient people and have better understand about their cultures and religions. It is not possible for people nowadays to reappear the lives people in the past lived, in that case, it is all about reasonable assumptions of people in the past. And it feels to be really important to make these assumptions really reasonable, which means based on our knowledge, instead of personal preference. And as we know more about facts in the past, we would be closer to the real truth.

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