All About History

STRANGE LIVES OF MAYA KINGS

Out of the dark shadows emerged a fairytale sight, a fantastic and transcendental view of another world. Such was the stunned reaction of the archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier as he first entered the tomb of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal in 1952. Pakal had been the ruler of the bustling Maya city of Palenque, in present-day Chiapas, Mexico, from 615 until 683.

The massive carved stone lid of his sarcophagus, located beneath the city’s Temple of Inscriptions, explained that Pakal would first travel to Xibalba, the Maya underworld, then make good his ascent via the legendary World Tree. Pakal was suitably dressed for his odyssey. His skeleton wore a stunning death mask along with the finest jade collar, necklaces and rings. His sarcophagus displayed images of his ancestors and symbolism redolent of the Maya maize god, a figure who encapsulated the perpetual cycles of rebirth and renewal. Pakal’s journey was far from being over, and a stone tube, heading out of the tomb, may well have been intended as a ‘psychoduct’: a conduit through which Pakal’s spirit could venture upwards to encounter worshippers in the temple.

The Maya knew how to treat their dead kings, especially during the so-called Classical period (c.250 CE-c.900), and royal funerary sites were crammed with treasures and potent images: jade and pyrite artefacts, porcelain-like cowrie shells, turtle carapaces, stingray spines and cinnabar. But why was such devout attention lavished

Sie lesen eine Vorschau. Registrieren Sie sich, um mehr zu lesen.

Ähnliche Interessen

Mehr von All About History

All About History3 min gelesen
The Art Of Medieval Calligraphy
If the purpose of writing is to communicate, then the simplest, most legible lettering would perhaps be expected. Yet calligraphy (the art of decorative writing) and illumination (ornamenting a page or letter with designs) has captured artists’ imagi
All About History1 min gelesen
Welcome
Was Thomas Cromwell more saint or sinner? In some ways that simple question is the one that’s driven our cover feature this issue. Cromwell has become a little more prominent in public discourse thanks to the work of Hilary Mantel and her excellent n
All About History9 min gelesenWorld
Smersh: Stalin’s Spy Hunters
I an Fleming’s 1953 novel Casino Royale introduced the world to suave super-spy James Bond. As has been noted by academics in the decades following the book’s publication and even by Fleming himself, he drew much from his own wartime experiences as a