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Edwin L. Barnhart

The Palenque Mapping Project, 1998 - 2000 Final Report
And The Waters of Lakam Ha: A Survey of Palenque’s Water Management
by Kirk D. French

Vea este informe en Español.

Figure 1. Drawing of plan of Tok Tan Cave drawn by H. Hearst and A. Mendez.

Research Year:  2000
Culture:  Maya
Chronology:  Classic
Location:  Chiapas, México
Site:  Palenque

Table of Contents

Previous Research
Discussions by Group
Water Management
Sources Cited
Appendix A


The ruins of Palenque, nestled in the foothills of Northern Chiapas, were once a major capital of the Classic Period Maya (A.D. 250-900). Today they are visited by over 200,000 tourists per year and have become one of the world’s most celebrated archaeological sites. The last 100 years of archaeology at Palenque has focused on exploring and restoring its beautiful ceremonial center. Thanks to a 1997 agreement between México’s Instituto Nacional de Antropología y Historia (INAH) and the California-based Pre-Columbian Art Research Institute (PARI), we are now beginning to improve our understanding of Palenque’s outer regions. A new, intensive survey was commissioned that year and the necessary funding was provided by the Foundation for the Advancement of Mesoamerican Studies, Inc. (FAMSI). Your author was asked to direct the survey.

The Palenque Mapping Project (1998-2000) was completed in August of 2000. In total, 1478 structures were identified and recorded. The site’s previous map (Robertson 1983), while covering essentially the same area, contained only 329 structures. During the course of 18 months in the forests surrounding Palenque an area of 220 hectares was investigated and determined to be over four times more densely settled than previously understood. The new map was created from over 24,500 individual data points taken at every building corner, river’s edge and topography change. Accuracy was one of the project’s major goals and as a result the locations of features on the map are correct within ±20 centimeters of error. The over 1000 structures newly recorded range from small half meter tall platforms to the largest structure ever found in Palenque, the Escondido Temple.

Click to download the report in PDF format:

The Palenque Mapping Project, 1998 - 2000 Final Report  (18.4 MB)


NOTE: The map files that accompany this report are in an AutoCad format which require the Autodesk® Express Viewer. With the software installed you will be able to pan across and zoom into selected areas of the maps by right clicking your mouse and using the features in the menu. Click on the button below for the latest version of Autodesk® Express Viewer from

These same maps are also available in pdf format which require Adobe Acrobat Reader. You will need to download the latest version of Adobe Acrobat. Click the download button below.

Get Acrobat Reader      Click here for latest version of Autodesk Express Viewer software

.dwf  .pdf    PMP Area
.dwf  .pdf    Central Palenque
.dwf  .pdf    Cross Group
.dwf  .pdf    Group A and The Museum Group Map
.dwf  .pdf    Group E
.dwf  .pdf    Group J, Group J West and the Galindo Group
.dwf  .pdf    Group H, Encantado and Encantado South Group
.dwf  .pdf    South Central
.dwf  .pdf    Escondido Group
.dwf  .pdf    Group G, Motiepa Group and Motiepa Group East
.dwf  .pdf    León Group
.dwf  .pdf    Moises’ Retreat
.dwf  .pdf    Xinil Pa’ Group
.dwf  .pdf    Nauyaka and Lemon Groups
.dwf  .pdf    Olvidado and The Piedras Bolas Group
.dwf  .pdf    Picota Group
.dwf  .pdf    Yax Group
.dwf  .pdf    Group B, Murcielagos and The Zutz’ Group
.dwf  .pdf    Group C and Ch’ul Na
.dwf  .pdf    Group D and The Tok Group
.dwf  .pdf    Lik’in Group Map
.dwf  .pdf    The Otulum and Cascades Groups
.dwf  .pdf    Xaman Group and The Ach’ Group

Part 2:

Kirk French’s Report on Palenque’s Water Management Systems  (2.50 MB)

Submitted 02/28/2001 by:

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