Palenque Image is an ancient Mexican artifact—the lid of a sarcophagus found in a pre-Columbian temple in Palenque—has given rise to considerable speculation regarding the possibility of humanity’s contact with ancient astronauts in the distant past.
This coffin cover is decorated with an elaborate design that appears to show a person piloting some sort of mechanical craft, perhaps even a spacecraft.
Erich von Däniken and many other writers in the ancient-astronaut school of thought have referred to it as one among many anomalies that resist explanation in terms of our current understanding of the human past.
In 1935 a stone relief that very probably represents the god Kukumatz was found in Palenque (Old Kingdom). The mysterious image was carved on the lid of the tomb of K’inich Janaab’ Pakal.
K’inich Janaab’ Pakal was ruler of the Maya polity of Palenque in the Late Classic period of pre-Columbian Mesoamerican chronology.
During a long reign of some 68 years Pakal was responsible for the construction or extension of some of Palenque’s most notable surviving inscriptions and monumental architecture. Pakal ascended the throne at age 12 on July 29, 615, and lived to the age of 80. The name pakal means “shield” in the Maya language.
Pakal’s tomb has been the focus of attention by some “ancient astronaut” enthusiasts, a genuinely unprejudiced look at the picture would make even the most die-hard sceptic stop and think.
According to Erich von Däniken: There sits a human being, with the upper part of his body bent forward like a racing motorcyclist; today any child would identify his vehicle as a rocket.
It is pointed at the front, then changes to strangely grooved indentations like inlet ports, widens out and terminates at the tail in a darting flame. The crouching being himself is manipulating a number of undefinable controls and has the heel of his left foot on a kind of pedal.
His clothing is appropriate: short trousers with a broad belt, a jacket with a modern Japanese opening at the neck and closely fitting bands at arms and legs. With our knowledge of similar pictures, we should be surprised if the complicated headgear were missing.
And there it is with the usual indentations and tubes, and something like antennae on top. He is clearly depicted as space traveller—is not only bent forward tensely, he is also looking intently at an apparatus hanging in front of his face.
The astronaut’s front seat is separated by struts from the rear portion of the vehicle, in which symmetrically arranged boxes, circles, points and spirals can be seen.
However the widely accepted interpretation of the sarcophagus lid is that Pakal is descending into Xibalba, the Maya underworld. Around the edges of the lid are glyphs representing the Sun, the Moon, Venus, and various constellations, locating this event in the nighttime sky.
Below him is the Maya water god, who guards the underworld. Beneath Pakal are the “unfolded” jaws of a dragon or serpent, which Pakal is escaping from, ascending towards the world tree. This is a common iconographic representation of the entrance to the underworld.
Sources: UFOs and Popular Culture: “An Encyclopedia of Contemporary Myth” by James R. Lewis; Chariots of the Gods by Erich von Däniken