Planetary Glyphs from Pacals Coffin

Thomas Barthel was the first to recognize that seven of the symbols in the so-called "planetary band" on the coffin of Pacal, king of Palenque, were the symbols of the "seven planets" of the ancient world in their weekday order. The relevant inscription from the coffin is reproduced in Figure 12.6. The 1st glyph in the continuous band on the left appears to be the stylized head of the Sun god, although some have disputed this. The crescent Moon in 2nd position is unmistakable, as is the monster head that identifies the patron deity of the month Zip, the Mars deity repeatedly shown in the Dresden Mars table (cf. §12.6 and §12.8). The "star" glyph used for Venus appears in the 6th position. The remaining three glyphs (postulated as Mercury, Jupiter, and Saturn) require more discussion.

11/2 mean synodic periods (cf. §2.4.4) of Mercury (115.8d + 57.9d = 173.17d) correspond closely with half an eclipse year (173.31d; see §5.2.2). The crossbands, in DHK's opinion, refer to a Mercury marker of the crossroads of Sun and Moon near an eclipse. It may be relevant that the cross is sometimes shown in Aztec sources as a symbol of Quetzal-coatl, whom Kelley has identified as Mercury. These items suggest that the crossbands may be associated, at least sometimes, with Mercury.

The last glyph in the series is the "night" glyph, also found as a day name, corresponding to Aztec "house." The Aztec god of this day is Tepeyollotl, "Heart of the Mountain," a lord of animals and a jaguar god of the underworld, thus, according to the arguments of Kelley (1980, pp. 522-524), corresponding with either Jupiter or Saturn. The great bird who appears as the pseudo-Sun in the Popol Vuh seems to correspond with the so-called "Principal Bird Deity" of Mayan and Izapan monuments, who is marked with the "night" glyph. The role as "pseudo-Sun" may refer to the Saturnian synodic period of 378 days, closest of the anciently known planetary periods (i.e., excluding Uranus, Neptune, and Pluto) to the tropical year. Kelley (1972) has argued previously that Tepeyollotl corresponded to the Hindu Prajapati, "Lord of Animals" (see §15.3.2.1), identified as a

Figure 12.6. The "planetary band" glyphs from the top of the coffin of Pacal, ruler of Palenque, possibly representing planets in their weekday order, as originally postulated by Thomas Barthel: The 1st glyph may be the stylized head of the Sun god. The crescent Moon in 2nd position is unmistakable, as is the monster head that identifies the Mars deity of the Dresden Mars table. The "star" glyph used for Venus appears in the 6th position. The remaining three glyphs in the band and the three to the right are discussed in the text. Drawing by D. Zborover.

Figure 12.6. The "planetary band" glyphs from the top of the coffin of Pacal, ruler of Palenque, possibly representing planets in their weekday order, as originally postulated by Thomas Barthel: The 1st glyph may be the stylized head of the Sun god. The crescent Moon in 2nd position is unmistakable, as is the monster head that identifies the Mars deity of the Dresden Mars table. The "star" glyph used for Venus appears in the 6th position. The remaining three glyphs in the band and the three to the right are discussed in the text. Drawing by D. Zborover.

pseudo-Sun and as the planet Saturn. It could then be expected to find the "night" glyph representing Saturn. The remaining glyph appears in the 5th position, which is appropriate to Jupiter. The context afforded by the other six glyphs seems to make this identification nearly certain. The presence of the planets in their Old World weekday order on Pacal's coffin is one of the striking pieces of evidence that convinces DHK that much of Mesoamerican astronomy is derived in modified form from the Old World.

There are also three glyphs from the right side of the coffin lid shown to the right in Figure 12.6. These seem to be astronomical glyphs and may be associated with the multiple levels of Heaven.

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