Exhibits on the Plaza


Below are details from panels inside the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque, where King Pacal was buried. The hieroglyphs are located on a wall near the entrance to the stairs that lead down to his tomb.

For several decades, scholars have been working on deciphering these glyphs. By 1990, the full meaning of the glyphs became known. They read like a history book, describing royal families, exploits of war, and the ascension of young kings to the throne.

Maya hieroglyphs are considered the most sophisticated writing system ever developed in the pre-colonial Americas. Scribes used approximately 800 individual signs. Inscriptions were carved on stone and wood; and painted on walls and pottery. Writing was considered a sacred gift from the gods. The elite jealously guarded this knowledge in order maintain their role as messengers of the gods.

Details from the Tablet of the 96 Glyphs in the "Palace" at Palenque.