Palenque pälāng´kĕ [key], ancient city of the Maya in Chiapas, S Mexico, in the Usumacinta Valley. Its architectural elegance, adapted to tropical and topographical conditions, was a high point in the art of the Classic period. Stucco sculpturing and low-relief paneling reached their highest expression at Palenque. The Temple of Inscriptions, noted for its hieroglyphic tablets, is one of the best-preserved Mayan temples. Entablatures sloping inward and roofs slanting back to give a mansard effect show the great range of architectural concepts among the Maya. In 1952 an impressive tomb was uncovered under the Temple of the Inscriptions, demonstrating for the first time that the Maya pyramids served both as funerary structures and temple platforms. In recent years, many of the inscriptions at Palenque have been deciphered, revealing much of the dynastic history of the site. The texts at the Temple of Inscriptions indicate the tomb found there belongs to a leader named Pakal the Great, who ruled in AD 603–83.
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