Palenque

Follow in the footsteps of Victorian explorer Alfred Maudslay and discover this beautiful Maya site

British Museum

Tour the temple

Upon entering the modern archaeological site of Palenque, you are confronted by the elegant Temple of the Inscriptions.

This structure is not only famous for containing the second-longest Maya hieroglyphic text (617 glyph blocks), but for being the temple of Palenque's greatest ruler, K'inich Janaab Pakal I, whose elaborate tomb was discovered under the temple in 1952.

To the left is the Palace, the political and ritual centre of Palenque, where the royal court of the ruler could show off power, wealth, and influence.

Photograph of Palenque taken by A.P. Maudslay (1881/1894) by Alfred Percival MaudslayBritish Museum

Maudslay's discoveries

The British explorer Alfred Maudslay stayed at Palenque for several months in 1891, clearing many of the imposing structures from vegetation and taking photographs.

Not only did he bring his dry plate photography equipment, including the glass plates for his photos, but also materials to create molds from the large number of carved stone and stucco sculptures at the site.

This is a view of the Temple of the Inscriptions...

Photograph of Palenque taken by A.P. Maudslay (1881/1894) by Alfred Percival MaudslayBritish Museum

...and the Palace, taken by Alfred Maudslay in 1891.

The Ballcourt

As most other ancient Maya sites, Palenque has a ballcourt for the ancient Mesoamerican ballgame. A game called 'ulama' is still being played by indigenous groups in northern Mexico today.

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