The Temple of the Red Queen is next to the Skull Temple . It is also known as Temple XIII , and is the second building to your right which you will see as you walk into the site. The temple is built on top of a large platform, and was built to cover 2 older buildings. Three vaulted rooms separated by thick walls were built as a funerary vault.

The middle room contains a rectangular monolithic sarcophagus, completely painted red, which was covered by a 2.4 meter by 1.18 meter lid. This tomb held the remains of a woman much in the same way the Temple of the Inscriptions, next door, held those of King Pakal II . She is now known only as the Red Queen, due to the large amount of cinnabar that covered her bones. There is no conclusive evidence, however, about who this woman could have been. All we know is she was a robust woman who died when she was in her 40s and was covered with a luxurious funerary garment. A malachite mask was placed on her face, she was wearing necklaces, earrings, wrist bands, ankle bands and a diadem made of circular beads. Altogether, the offerings in her tomb had more than 1000 pieces of jade, malachite and sea shells. No hieroglyphic texts were found in her tomb, so her identity remains a mystery, although there has been some speculation around her possible identity as Pakal II' s wife or perhaps Lady Sak K'uk', Pakal's mother.

 

The complete lack of information on any scriptures about her identity or her role certainly doesn't allow any scholar to accept these speculations. Whoever she was there is no doubt she was a very important figure and a prominent Lady in Palenque 's society... A complete DNA test will probably shed some lights as to who this lady could have been!

On the sides of the sarcophagus were the remains of her 2 companions, who traveled with her to the other world and were probably sacrificed to this effect. One was another woman and the other companion was a child. The ceramics found within the tomb indicate that the lady was buried between 600 and 700 AD. In the sarcophagus, and placed next to her skull, was a sea shell that had a small female limestone figurine carved in inside. The shell symbolized the fertile waters of the inferior world, and therefore, symbolized the motherly womb, the watery milieu of human gestation... It is possible this also represents this lady's burial into the subterranean world... The Ancient Maya believed that when a human being died the person started a trip down into the Underworld. Along with other expressions they used to indicate "death", the Maya used the words ochab-bi "he who entered the path", which indicated the deceased had started his or her path down into the depths of the earth...

Alberto Rhuz Lhuillier had discovered a rich offering in this building before, during the 1954 excavations, with remains of green and red paintings, 25 beads of jade, several teeth and bone garments. But it wasn't until 1994 that archaeologist Arnoldo Gonzalez in a new excavation at the building found the Red Lady's tomb.


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