W4 Archaeology in the News Post

In the article “Mexico finds water tunnels under Pakal tomb in Palenque”, archaeologists discovered an underground water tunnel under an ancient Mayan tomb. This water tunnel passes through the tomb and flows out onto the esplanade in front of the temple and is thought to take Pakal’s spirit to the underworld. Much speculation about the carvings on the sarcophagus say it depicts the ancient ruler at the controls of a spaceship but other carvings later discovered state that a god “will guide the dead toward the underworld, by submerging (them) into the water so they will be received there.” This means that Pakal was essentially swept through the underground water tunnel. This discovery has huge significance in comparison with Teotihuacan because there was a similar water tunnel found there. This new discovery now reinforces the importance of water to the Mayan people and its meaning in the afterlife. It is believed by the Mayans that water will carry the souls of the dead to the afterlife. This type of symbolism is also related to the emerging importance of ceremonial burials that we began to see in Teotihuacan when the archaeologists found the skeletal remains of people that were showered with extravagant gifts. Just like the people who were buried under the shrine at Teotihuacan, the people of Palenque held a ceremonial burial in this tomb for their ruler.


Source: Archaeology News Network

Article: “Mexico finds water tunnels under Pakal tomb in Palenque”

Author: Mark Stevenson

Date Published: 25 July 2016

Date Accessed: 28 July 2016



2 thoughts on “W4 Archaeology in the News Post

  1. I had never considered the factor of water in the daily lives of ancient civilizations. I knew they would need it, but I have not heard of them using it ceremoniously or associated with the dead. Learning the symbolism of these people will help learn how they through about other issues. It’s interesting to see the similarities between these two civilizations. Perhaps some people left from Palenque and kept their traditions alive to be incorporated into the Teotihuacan culture many years later. It would be interesting to see how far back some traditions in today’s society went or how they have evolved due to influences from other cultures.

  2. This is super interesting! I can’t even imagine how exciting it would be to discover something like that. I have never heard about a water tunnel in a tomb before. The hypothesis that the archaeologists concluded about the purpose of the tunnel, that it was used as a passage way for Pakal’s spirit to pass on to the underworld, is very interesting. I liked how you made the connection that because water was the means of travel to the afterlife that it obviously had great significance in their everyday lives also. As we have been learning about all week, it has become increasingly important to study and understand the everyday lives of the working force.

Leave a Reply