View of North Side of Palace

North Side of Palace (left), Temple of the Inscriptions (right)

The north side of the palace is interesting because House A-D, which once ran along the entire north side of the palace, was built by the 13th ruler of Palenque, the unfortunate Kan Xul II, and contained the Palace Tablet which describes several events of his personal history and culminated in his accession to the throne in 702 AD.

Kan Xul ruled for nine years, but in 711 was captured by forces from the neighboring city-state of Tonina and eventually sacrificed. Palenque was then ruled by a caretaker between the time of his capture until 720, whereupon his younger brother Xoc was inaugurated and ruled for a brief two years. Then Kan Xul's nephew K'inich Ahkal Mo'Nahb III was enthroned (see more on Mesoweb in Joel Skidmore's The Rulers of Palenque, p 77).

David Stuart writes: "House A-D was a relatively late construction within the Palace complex, dedicated by the ruler K'inich K'an Joy Chitam as an addition to the ambitious program of galleries and courtyards begun by his father, K'inich Hanab Pakal, several decades earlier...

...House A-D's construction and masonry seem to have been of quality inferior to what was used in Pakal's earlier Palace buildings, such as the adjacent Houses A and D, both of which still stand in remarkable condition to the east and west of House A-D's modest remains."

Maya Archaeology 2, edited by Charles Golden, Stephen Houston, and Joel Skidmore, pp. 116-142. Precolumbia Mesoweb Press, San Francisco, 2012.


Model of Palace Complex from Palenque Museum

Model of Palace Complex from Palenque Museum

This model shows how the palace might have looked at the time of House A-D's construction, showing how it ran along the periphery of the entire northern side of the palace. House A-D is bottom left in the photo.

In her online article in Mesoweb, art historian Merle Greene Robertson pieces together a description of House A-D from archaeological remains and painted stucco decorations on its few remaining piers.

In 1949, excavations overseen by Alberto Ruz Lhuillier discovered what has been called The Palace Tablet in the collapsed masonry of House A-D. The large panel originally been set into the center of the rear wall of this long hall-like space facing outward, possibly as a backdrop for a throne. Jorge Péerez de Lara's photograph and Merle Greene Robinson's drawing of this tablet can be found on Mesoweb.

Robertson describes the palace tablet as perhaps the most beautiful of all the Palenque tablets and states that the "individual glyphs are not only beautiful pieces themselves but are in some instances whimsical and amusing."

The palace tablet describes the birth of Kan Xul II, various rites and rituals he participated in as a young man, the death of Pakal the Great, the accession of K'inich Kan Bahlam (Kan Xul's elder brother), the death of Kan Bahlam and the accession of Kan Xul in 702 AD, ending with the dedication of House A-D in 720 AD.


Details of Palace Northern Substructure Stucco Decoraation

Detail from Northern Substructure of Palace

The north substructure tiers show a large human or Maize God face flanked by a two-headed serpent. From the open jaws of the serpent emerges the head of K'awiil.

Kawil can be clearly seen on the upper tier and is recognized by the flaming axe in his forehead. A recognizable Maize God face can be seen on the right side of the lower tier.

Drawing by Linda Schele,© David Schele, courtesy Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc., http://www.famsi.org