Mexico finds water tunnel under tomb of Mayan ruler Pakal

Archaeologists at Mexico’s Mayan ruin site of Palenque have discovered an underground water tunnel built under the Temple of Inscriptions, which houses the tomb of Mayan ruler Pakal.

Archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez says researchers believe the tomb and pyramid were purposely built atop the spring between 683 and 702 AD. The tunnels led water under the funeral chamber and give Pakal’s spirit a path to the underworld.

Attention has focused on the heavily carved sarcophagus in which Pakal was placed, and which some erroneously believe depict the Maya ruler seated in a spaceship.

But Gonzalez said Monday carvings on a pair of stone ear plugs found in the grave say a god “will guide the dead toward the underworld, by submerging (them) into the water so they will be received there.”

Temple of Inscriptions is the largest Mesoamerican stepped pyramid structure at the pre-Columbian Maya civilization site of Palenque, located in the modern-day state of Chiapas, Mexico. The structure was specifically built as the funerary monument for Pakal, ajaw or ruler of Palenque in the 7th century whose reign over the polity lasted almost 70 years.

Construction of this monument commenced in the last decade of his life, and was completed by his son and successor K’inich Kan B’alam II. Within Palenque, the Temple of the Inscriptions is located in an area known as the Temple of the Inscriptions’ Court and stands at a right angle to the Southeast of the Palace. The Temple of the Inscriptions has been significant in the study of the ancient Maya, owing to the extraordinary sample of hieroglyphic text found on the Inscription Tablets, the impressive sculptural panels on the piers of the building, and the finds inside the tomb of Pakal.

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