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Our operation at the Temple of the Foliated Cross, directed by Archaeologist Patricia Aguirre, investigated the fact that there is a basal molding at the back that is absent on the sides. Evidently the rear base of the temple was giving way, so the ancient Palenqueños built a reinforcing "belt" around three sides.

That there were at one time curtains or banners covering the building's sides is suggested by the holes for rods and the rings for tying off cords. (We have also found one such tie-ring at the top of the stairs to Temple XIX.)

There is a short flight of stairs going up the back of the Temple of the Foliated Cross, perhaps to provide access for the drawing of the curtains.

One ring is still in place on the small stairs. The other was found on its side, on top of a small base in the stucco, on which it was mounted perpendicularly.

Our test excavation explored a pocket of "rotten" limestone.

Click here for a drawing.

There are many of these throughout the Cross Group Plaza vicinity and throughout Palenque. Ground Penetrating Radar shows these as anomalies in the bedrock--voids or holes where the solid bedrock is "rotted" away.

(Limestone powders easily. The ancient Maya used the white powder to create ritual pathways at many of their sites. These were called sakbéob , literally "white roads". The powder is still called sak  in Maya, just as in ancient times, meaning "white". Thus an ancient sakbé  was not just a "white road", but a road made of "white".)

This hole in the limestone was filled with gravel, pieces of stucco, and cached objects, including the bone of a bird and bits of ceramics.

Click here for a drawing.

A very thick layer of stucco protrudes past the temple's base and the reinforcing "belt". Perhaps it once covered the ground behind the temple and the reinforcement was built on top of it. There are even traces of stucco on the natural face of the hillside behind the Temple of the Foliated Cross, which might have served to protect against the fall of loose rocks.

The stucco on the ground might have been intended to channel off water, to keep it from further weakening the back wall. Or this may have been considered a side benefit, since the ancient Maya tended to stucco all surfaces of their ritual centers, natural as well as architectural.