Inside a Painted Tomb


March/April 2013

maya-tomb-palenque-temple-20A team of archaeologists from Mexico’s National Institute of Anthropology and History has entered a brilliantly painted Maya tomb inside Palenque’s Temple 20, 13 years after it was first discovered, following consultation with dozens of specialists on how best to conserve the find. The tomb is believed to hold the remains of K’uk Bahlam I, the founder of the city’s ruling dynasty, who came to the throne in A.D. 431. In 2011, a camera was lowered through a small hole in the tomb’s ceiling, providing a tantalizing glimpse of the murals (see “A Peek Inside Two Secret Chambers,” September/October 2011). The paintings, which may depict the nine lords of the Maya underworld, will be stabilized and conserved before the tomb is further excavated.