Wednesday, May 12, 2010

K'inich Janaab' Pakal’s False Pearls

As I have written previously, the great Mexican archaeologist, Alberto Ruz discovered one of the most important tombs in all of the Maya area when he excavated the Temple of the Inscriptions at Palenque and found the remains of greatest Palenque ruler, K’inich Pakal.

Many jewels and precious objects were found in that tomb, but the objects that I want to talk about for this blog-post are what Ruz called “false pearls”, as seen in the above scan. He writes, “These pearls were magnificent falsifications. Each pearl is composed of two hollow pieces of mother-of-pearl shell, exactly cut and polished, which were fitted in one case lengthwise and in the other transversely, held in place as one by a limestone paste which filled the supposed pearl.” (Ruz 300:1953) The false pearls were 32 mm (1.26 inches) long. Ruz goes on to state that these manufactured pearls were evidence of a theocracy in which “a great all-powerful king demanded pearls of a size larger than could be found in nature” and thus demonstrated the inventiveness of the Palenque jeweler who made them.

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