Currently, only a very small amount of the Mayan city of Palenque is estimated to have been uncovered leaving much speculation over certain aspects of Mayan history. Theories suggest Palenque was a priestly center, arranged in an amphitheater style with one central pyramid. The small percentage of uncovered Palenque ruins include The Palace, the Tomb of Pakal inside the Temple of Inscriptions, Temple of the Skull (XII), Sun, Cross and Foliated Cross Temples, an aqueduct system that redirected flow of the Otulum River, and the Temple of the Lion. Over 1,500 ruins are estimated yet to be uncovered in the Palenque city area alone.
Mayan culture is renown for their celestial influence, mathematical ingenuity and their wonderfully large step pyramid constructions filled with intricate glyph carvings detailing their history, stories and legends. Adding to the complexity in which Mayans built with, many of the temples and other structures are aligned specifically to astronomical events and celestial configurations. The Mayan Calendar exemplifies the impact of cosmology on their culture and claimed quite a substantial amount of media attention recently as time ticked closer to a projected end date in 2012 of a 5,000 year cycle. So far, only one unique structure has been uncovered in the Palace area which is unmistakably an astronomical observatory. In demonstration of ancient Mayan architectural ability and sophisticated celestial knowledge, this four story tower lines the setting sun of the winter solstice to the center of the Temple of Inscriptions. The entire city of Chichen Itza is aligned precise to the points on a compass, furthermore, the Pyramid of Kukulkan creates the illusion of a snake processing down the pyramid in the direction of a cenote during the days of both the autumn and spring equinox.
The Crystal Skull
As with Palenque, only about 5% of all known Mayan establishments are thought to have been discovered, giving rise to a potentially rich treasure trove of Mayan history and knowledge. In 1927, Mitchell Hedges' daughter Anna discovered a mysterious quartz crystal skull at the top of a ruined temple in the ancient Mayan city of Lubaantum which is now known as Belize. After 43 years in the possession of the Hedges family, the perplexing skull was extensively examined and tested at a Hewlett Packard lab in California. The findings under a microscope demonstrated that no metal tools were used in the creation of the skull due to a distinct absence of tool markings altogether. Analysis determined a specific gravity of 2.65 with a Mohs hardness factor of 7, meaning that even modern tools would prove difficult to scratch or mark the crystal at all. Estimations place a water and silicon-crystal sand process, hand-polishing, to take around 300 years of continuous labor to achieve this result. Several interesting aspects of the skull question what exactly is known of Mayan technology and prove beyond a doubt to not be a modern fabrication of any kind. Tubes found in the zygomatic bones are precisely separated from the skull and use optical principals to channel light from the skull's base to the eye sockets. There are several other light tunnels and transfers that seem to create different prismatic effects based on light sources applied to the skull from different locations. Since the Hedges discovery, two other Mayan crystal skulls have been discovered in Guatemala and Mexico and brought to the United States in 1979 by a Mayan priest. Hewlett Packard labs have also tested these skulls to find nearly identical properties as the Mitchell Hedges' skull.
Only Partially Discovered
As the remaining 95% of their civilization is uncovered, Mayan culture can be considered the Egypt of the Americas in both complexity and scale with many more mysteries to be discovered. It continues to defy our modern world's perception of ancient civilizations with every find. On top of the fact a very small percentage of ruins have been excavated, researchers and archaeologists must also work to understand each discovery. Ancient sites such as Tulum, for example, suggest there is much more to the Mayan story. Given the scope of knowledge already documented, it is very possible that once forgotten technologies may be rediscovered in the future, for the benefit of all mankind.
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