Zafer Ahmed '08 - Today we visited the sites in Palenque. Words simply cannot describe how amazing and breathtaking it was. Palenque is naturally filled with aquifers and aqueducts. Water just seems to come straight from the ground flowing down hills into a river basin. The ability for the Maya to redirect and control this untamed water was no simple feat.
As we trekked through the forest, buildings and structures seem to arise straight from the jungle floor. The jungles have reclaimed the very forest from the Maya. Interestingly enough, roughly 10% of the Palenque site has been recovered and excavated. The rest belongs to the jungle now.
As we studied in class, the relationship between architecture and archeology is prominent in Mayan civilization. Many of the buildings are built according to celestial events and bodies. For instance, the Temple of the Sun and the Temple of Inscriptions line up along the Zenith Passage. Palenque was ruled by the family of Palak and the sites excavated revolve around his family.
The most interesting thing I learned during the hike was Mayan ritual including the passage of royal power from father king to son prince. During the coronation, the father, Palak, was seen as the sunset and the son, Kan Balaq, was seen as the sunrise. In fact, the Temple of Sun shows a passage of light at sunset with a beam reflecting toward the opposite wall (the direction of a sunrise); thus symbolizing the passage of power. Most of the excavated ruins deal directly with the relationship between father and son as they represent the climax of Mayan power in Palenque.
The grand scheme of the site was no much larger than me and my understanding. We have only started our journey and I have already learned so much. I would like to thank all those that have given me the opportunity to come to Chiapas to learn.
Upper; an unearthed ruin at the Palenque site. Lower; a view of the Temple of Inscriptions and the Royal Palace.