The Temple of the Inscriptions, Mayan ruins of Palenque, Mexico (copyright 2007

Temple of the Inscriptiones, Palenque, Mexico

Rising to the east is the structure, which is not only among the best preserved but also the one, which contains the most information. It is called the temple of Inscriptions because of three large limestone tablets with hieroglyphic inscriptions on the outside. This structure, a staired, temple-crowned pile, is decorated with stucco relief. Inside, two flights of stairs go below to an imposing crypt which houses the sarcophagus of Lord Shield 2, who ruled Palenque between 680 and 720 AD The sarcophagus itself, its monumental stone cover, and the walls of the crypt are all garnished in low reliefs. These inscriptions not only express the name, origin, and the ancestry of the chieftain; they also portray the scene of the Lord of Palenque's death. Shown in them, too, are the celestial environment and various deities, signs and symbols that together represent the Mayan vision of the cosmos. Beyond this lies the less well-preserved Temple XIII, whose walls alone remain, and the Temple of the Skull, so-called because of a skeletal rabbit mask found inside.

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