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Drawing From the Past
Maya Antiquity Through the Eyes of Frederick Catherwood

Plate 7 (top), Principal Court of the Palace at Palenque

Plate 7 (top), Principal Court of the Palace at Palenque

Plate 7 (top), Principal Court of the Palace at Palenque
(on stone, by H. Warren)

Outstanding Maya ruins are found all over Central America. This particular image is the view from the East Court of the Palace in Palenque, facing towards House A. The Maya built the palace, a complex of many connected buildings, over a long span of time. House A was one of the newer buildings, perhaps built in the late 7th or early 8th century. In the foreground of the image, indigenous people repose around and upon the ruins, perhaps on a break from clearing or excavating the site.

The Palace gives evidence the Maya were accomplished architects. For this building to exist the Maya needed to use complex and innovative architectural strategies. Ingeniously, the Maya included such elements as small niches in the vaults to lessen the weight of the roof and an advanced drainage system to eliminate the weight of excess water. The result is the fascinating building shown in Catherwood's drawing. [Spanish version].

ABBY SOUTHWELL

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