Researchers report* an ancient royal palace complex in Mexico. The emergence of early state societies is a major focus of anthropological studies, and a key characteristic of state societies is the royal palace, the ruler’s residence and seat of government. Elsa Redmond and Charles Spencer report on the well-preserved remains of a royal palace at the archaeological site of El Palenque in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico. Excavation data from the site indicate that the palace complex was built according to a preconceived design in a single large-scale construction effort and exhibits architectural and organizational features similar to later, historically documented royal palaces in Mesoamerica. Covering a maximum estimated area of 2,790 m2, the palace exhibits a ground plan differentiated into governmental and residential components, reflecting a centralized, hierarchical, and specialized state administration. Analysis of ceramic samples and radiocarbon dating of charcoal samples from the site suggest that the El Palenque palace complex was in use during 300-100 BC, a time of archaic state emergence in the region. The authors suggest that the palace complex at El Palenque represents the oldest multifunctional palace in Mexico’s Valley of Oaxaca, and provides evidence of early state society in the region.
El Palenque royal palace. Image courtesy Elsa M. Redmond and Charles Spencer
Water shrine, where a stone-lined drain descending from ruler’s residence supplied rainwater to cistern. Image courtesy Elsa M. Redmond and Charles Spencer
Article Source: A PNAS press release.
*“Ancient palace complex (300–100 BC) discovered in the Valley of Oaxaca, Mexico,” by Elsa M. Redmond and Charles Spencer.
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