Palenque . . . video by the Institutio Nacional de Antropologia e Historia and Canal 22
Palenque was the principal city of the Chiapas Highlands. Perched on the edge of an escarpment, it has magnificent views of the Lowlands of Chiapas and Tabasco. Palenque is of particular interest to Southeastern Native Americans because in 2012, the Department of Earth Sciences, University of Minnesota, determined that the major component of Maya Blue stucco at Palenque was mined in Georgia. The region around Palenque is also the only location in the world, outside the Coastal Plain of the Southeastern United States, where the Yaupon Holly (Sacred Black Drink) grows naturally. Palenque was incinerated by the volcanic eruption around 800 AD.
(One hour TV program in Spanish)
If you do not understand Spanish and the sound track irritates you. Just turn off the sound. The cinematography of this beautiful film is well worth the time.
Unfortunately, it is very difficult to find English language documentaries, which adequately describe the architecture and cityscapes of Mesoamerican sites. This film does an excellent job of taking a viewer on a walk through the rugged terrain of the city. Gringo documentaries feature a few buildings then focus in on details and small artifacts . . . reflecting the obsession among many Gringo archaeologists toward small artifacts. Viewers are left with little understanding of what it is like to be there. So far, Mexican archaeologists have found over 1,400 stone buildings in Palenque. The number grows each year.
This film also does an excellent job of portraying the streams that gush out of the mountainside and then cascade down through the city in a series of waterfalls and pools. Palenque’s city plan cannot be understood unless you realize the important role that these had in its layout. Even today, Palenque is vision of paradise.
On the second day I was at Palenque, I followed one of the streams up to its source . . . a large cavern. The floor of the stream was littered with the shells of aquatic snails. These purple and white snails are endemic in Palenque’s streams. They make perfect necklaces, which are often portrayed in Maya murals. Also, when boiled, the shells turn white, but the water is stained with a crimson-purple dye. I assume that the Mayas used this dye in the fabrication of cloth, and perhaps on murals too.
Enjoy your free one hour vacation in Palenque.
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