On the left, a close-up of a weathered, terracotta sculpture of a person's head with detailed headdress. On the right, a photo of an ancient underground chamber with inscriptions on the walls and sarcophagus.

Unveiling the Secrets of Pakal the Great: The Enigmatic Mayan Ruler

The Mayan city of Palenque, located in Chiapas, has intrigued scholars and enthusiasts for over two centuries. However, it truly captured global attention in 1952 when archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier unearthed the Temple of Inscriptions, a funerary monument dedicated to K'inich Janaab' Pakal, the most renowned ruler of Palenque.

In her book, Laura Filloy, a restoration expert, delves into the life and legacy of Pakal the Great. Palenque has held a special place in global imagination for centuries, and the desire to uncover its secrets is unparalleled. Filloy's book, published by Fondo de Cultura Económica (FCE), details the efforts to unravel the mysteries of Pakal and the city of Palenque, from the past to the present day.

Filloy, who restored the mosaic mask that was part of Pakal's regalia, dedicates a significant portion of her work to the excavations at the Temple of the Inscriptions (1949-1958). The discoveries made by Ruz Lhuillier during this period revolutionized archaeological understanding, transforming the perception of the purpose of pyramids from mere grand structures to funerary tombs.

Ruz Lhuillier's findings not only revealed a spectacular burial site but also challenged previous knowledge of Mayan funerary customs. Over the years, various scientific disciplines, including archaeology, history, epigraphy, linguistics, and restoration, have made significant advancements, contributing to a more comprehensive understanding of Palenque.

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Filloy's research extends beyond traditional sources. She incorporates information from the Technical Archive of the Archeology Council of INAH and the collection of the National Coordination of Museums and Exhibitions. Her approach provides a deeper understanding of the impact of the discovery on the world of museums.

The book is not just about Pakal as a historical figure but also about the research journey over the past 70 years. It offers insights into everyday life in Palenque around 600 AD. A chapter is dedicated to Pakal himself, describing him as a man over 50 years old, 1.61 meters tall, with a culturally modified skull, delicate hands, and feet accustomed to wearing sandals. It also suggests that he led a sedentary lifestyle.