Inside they found a tiny Indiana Jones
June 24, 2011 11:05 AM   Subscribe

Archaeologists from Mexico's National Institute of Anthropology and History have used a remote-controlled microcamera to explore a 1500-year-old sealed Mayan burial chamber at the Palenque archaeological site in Chiapas, Mexico. Story in English from the Guardian but be sure to click on "Fotos" at the first link.
posted by Horace Rumpole (19 comments total) 28 users marked this as a favorite

 
Amazing photographs, truly a triumph for modern archaeology!
posted by Renoroc at 11:08 AM on June 24, 2011


Awesome.
posted by Gator at 11:19 AM on June 24, 2011


I assume this is great for budgets too, as although the amount of information is lower, there are zero conservation costs.


(Also, I dislike the idea of disturbing graves for the sake of archeology even though it's often necessary.)
posted by Jehan at 11:23 AM on June 24, 2011


Also, I dislike the idea of disturbing graves for the sake of archeology even though it's often necessary.

Despite what I've learned from Hollywood, I'm pretty sure the occupants don't mind.
posted by The 10th Regiment of Foot at 11:30 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


this is awesome!
posted by supermedusa at 11:31 AM on June 24, 2011


So does the camera get cursed or the remote operator?
posted by 2bucksplus at 11:36 AM on June 24, 2011


So does the camera get cursed or the remote operator?

Both. On the way out, it came to life and attacked the operator like a snake. Except rather than biting, it went right through mouth and crawled down the esophagus in some twisted parody of an endoscopy. The operator watched himself suffocate from the inside out on the monitor.
posted by griphus at 11:41 AM on June 24, 2011 [11 favorites]


Yeah, Palenque is quite the haunting place. There's a real risk of falling to your death when ascending the steps to some of these temples. The temple pictured is closed to climbers for that reason...

But, it's quite worth it once finish your ascent! Relief sculptures like this one (picture mine) greet you at the top, watching over the royalty within....

Ergo, it's really awesome that we can now explore the depths of these massive, suprisingly- non-crumbly structures!
posted by obscurator at 11:51 AM on June 24, 2011 [1 favorite]


Despite what I've learned from Hollywood, I'm pretty sure the occupants don't mind.

That's because they're dead. They probably wouldn't mind having their head used as a football either.*





(*Not equating the two. I'm sure you get the reference.)
posted by Jehan at 11:51 AM on June 24, 2011


Image 16 is by far the most interesting. In that image, you can make out the bottom of a man carrying a shield. A lot of the picture on that wall will be lost, but what is left looks like it will be fascinating. It more than likely tells a story about some event in the life of the person buried there.

Palenque has quite a bit of history that is known, including a mostly complete dynasty list. However, there are many unknown details. The burial in Temple XX was done sometime between 540 and 720CE.
posted by Xoc at 12:10 PM on June 24, 2011


I just started watching The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles last night, so the title of this post was totally awesome.
posted by sawdustbear at 12:41 PM on June 24, 2011


The photographs on the Fotos link are really fantastic. Great post.
posted by immlass at 12:54 PM on June 24, 2011


Blood-red walls, how apropos.
posted by bwg at 1:53 PM on June 24, 2011


Very interesting, thanks for the post!
posted by CrazyLemonade at 2:28 PM on June 24, 2011


Xoc - is the "circle with an X on it" the standard icon (glyph?) for a shield? Because otherwise I can't see how you can see a man there. (Like I can on image 15.)

By the way, great username to be showing up in this thread.
posted by benito.strauss at 5:32 PM on June 24, 2011


Great post! (I'm happy that for once a Mexico FPP isn't related to drug trafficking)
posted by Omon Ra at 9:20 PM on June 24, 2011


VERY nice post, Renoroc! I lubs me some remote-control archeology.

The pics are fantastic--I can't believe they're done with a microcamera and have such detail. 'Eleven vessels and pieces of jade and shell'--I'll bet they're just dying to get their hands on them to discover more.

I wish they'd have selected a better photo of Martha Cuevas (I assume she's the gal in the fuchsia blouse)--that pic certainly isn't flattering.
posted by BlueHorse at 10:11 PM on June 24, 2011


Palenque. . .less than half of that site has been excavated. Once I took off up a trail into the jungly hillside above the site. . . .quickly the trail dissapated and I was lost. Was walking, brushing the vines out of my way, hardly could see through them, and soon walked into a stone wall.
posted by Danf at 7:01 AM on June 25, 2011


Yes, the circle with the X is standard. It's actually used as a logograph for the word 'shield' in other contexts. If you've looked at a lot of Maya iconography, there are certain standard motifs. A man standing with a shield and spear preparing for battle is pretty standard, and what you'd expect. Compare it to this image, also from Palenque. The shield is different, but the layout is similar.
posted by Xoc at 1:37 PM on June 27, 2011


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