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Non-invasive geophysical techniques help archaeologists study Pakal II's crypt
Discovered more than 60 years ago by archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, the crypt of K’inich Janaab Pakal doesn’t rest over mother rock or original, but maybe over a structure built with very big sandstones filled with rock fragments. Photo: Meliton Tapia/INAH.
MEXICO CITY.- Anomalies that correspond to a pair of 2 and 3 meter [6.56 and 9.84 feet] cavities detected by a georadar in the front part of the Temple of Inscriptions in Palenque, and the corroboration that the Pakal II crypt doesn’t rest over original rock, signal that this funerary chamber was not the starting point of this celebrated Mayan construction, as it’s discoverer (archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier) suggested.

Such conjecture derives of the preliminary results obtained by the use of geophysical techniques that are noninvasive or destructive, that help support archeological work. This binational project has the collaboration of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), the National Council of Science and Technology and the National Center of National Investigation (CNRS) of France.

The engineers Jose Ortega Ramirez and Luis Angel Villa Alvarado, from the Geophysics Laboratory of INAH, as well as Ph.D Maksim Bano and Ph.D Pascal Sailhac from CNRS, where transferred to this archaeological zone located in the north of Chiapas, in order to further their studies.

Discovered more than 60 years ago by archaeologist Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, the crypt of K’inich Janaab Pakal doesn’t rest over mother rock or original, but maybe over a structure built with very big sandstones filled with rock fragments.

In the Temple of Inscriptions they have alternated the use of the Georadar for Surface Penetration with the Electrical Resistance Tomography. The engineer Luis Angel Villa Alvarado, technician of the Geophysical Laboratory in INAH explained that the effects of the tomography are similar to those of an electrocardiogram of the human body.

At the same time, Ph.D Maksim Bano, who has collaborated with archaeological projects in diverse parts of the world, said that their participation in one of the most important cities of Mayan culture is not limited to knowing the physical aspects of the subsoil of the Temple of Inscriptions, but also “the secrets that the funerary chamber could hold for such a character as Pakal”.

The purpose, based on the information obtained by the georadar and the tomography of the electrical resistance, is to develop a project of exploration, expressed the archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez Cruz, responsible of the archaeological work in Palenque.

“It’s true that there is a theory revolving around an access to the tomb of Pakal II by the frontal part of the building, but this will not stop being mere speculation until a more formal archaeological work is done in the exterior, and supported in technology based on geophysical prospection”.




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