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Hidden Secrets of Palenque Unveiled: Archaeologists Unearth Tomb with Green Figurines

King Pakal's Jade Mask.

New findings shed light on Mayan culture as Mayan Train construction reveals priceless artifacts.

A recent archaeological excavation led by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) at the Palenque site in Chiapas has unearthed a tomb with a secondary burial, replete with offerings and green figurines.

Located in the heart of the tropical forest, Palenque (known as Bàak’ in Mayan and Lakam Há) is an archaeological treasure situated near the Usumacinta River. It is among the most significant Mayan sites, alongside Chichén Itzá, Calakmul, and Tikal. Renowned for its architectural and sculptural legacy, Palenque has only had 2.5 square kilometers of its 2% explored, leaving over a thousand structures hidden beneath the jungle.

Green Figurines and Ancient Burials

Famed for King Pakal’s burial crypt with bas-reliefs depicting his descent into the underworld, the site now boasts another incredible find. The green figurines, matching the hue of King Pakal’s jade death mask, were discovered by INAH archaeologists in a niche alongside three plates.

One of the ancient figurines that was found. INAH.
One of the ancient figurines that was found. INAH.

However, the tomb’s occupant is not a monarch but an important individual from the Palenque community. The man’s skeleton lies face-up, oriented north, in accordance with the region’s ancient funerary customs. A secondary deposit containing a woman’s remains was also found, likely buried elsewhere and later reinterred in the antechamber. Further analysis is being conducted on another skull found as part of the secondary burial.

Mayan Train Project Uncovers Unprecedented Artifacts

INAH director Diego Prieto announced that the archaeological salvage tasks are nearing completion, as the Mayan Train project in the Yucatan peninsula continues to unearth astonishing finds, including cave paintings and a well-preserved 1,000-year-old canoe. Prieto considers the discoveries to be “the most important research project that has been carried out in the Mayan region of Mexico.”

With the Mayan Train set to be inaugurated by year’s end, this railway line will link Caribbean tourist destinations with lesser-known inland sites, including the historic Mayan locations that inspired its name.

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