A Brief History of Mexico by Lynn V. Foster

By Lynn V. Foster

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Even after many of the texts at Palenque had been deciphered, scholars were not able to determine when K’an Xul died. The discovery of the carving at the T 34 DIVERSITY OF MESOAMERICAN CIVILIZATION Palace Tablet, Palenque (Drawing by Merle Greene Robertson; used with permission) nearby site of Toniná revealed the historical truth that Palenque scribes had avoided telling. The scene depicts a lord, his arms bound, who has been captured by Toniná. The hieroglyphs to the right state that a war occurred on a certain date.

Like their Egyptian counterparts, however, the pyramids sometimes contain royal tombs painted with murals and accompanied with precious jades and, in the Postclassic period, gold ornaments. Although many have speculated about burials inside Teotihuacán’s Sun and Moon pyramids, the first evidence suggestive of a royal tomb in the Pyramid of the Moon was discovered only in 2002. P Pyramid of the Moon,Teotihuacán astronomers now argue that the alignment not only of the pyramid but of the entire city may correlate with ancient beliefs about the creation of the Mesoamerican world.

A rigid grid plan prevails for over eight square miles. No natural feature was permitted to interfere with the layout: the San Juan River was canalized to conform to the grid as it passed through the city. Symmetry was the aesthetic mandate, from the composition of paintings in palaces to the urban plan for the city. The urban plan invaded even private homes. The population—who, based on depopulation studies of the surrounding countryside, were probably coerced into living in the city—resided in 2,000 apartment complexes for 60 to 100 individuals each.

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