Page:The Story of Mexico.djvu/106

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One other of the monuments of Palenque should be mentioned, the Temple of the Cross. It rises from a truncated pyramid, and forms a quadrilateral separated by pilasters, ornamented with hieroglyphics and human figures. The openings lead through an inside gallery to three little rooms, of which the middle one contains an altar, ornamented with a frieze. Above this altar until recently stood three marble slabs, of which one is now in the Smithsonian Institute at Washington, the central stone at the National Museum in the city of Mexico, and the third still remains at Palenque. They are six feet four inches in height, four feet wide, and six inches thick, of cream-colored stone of a fine grain. The central stone now in Mexico gives a striking representation of the Christian cross on a pedestal in the midst of a tangle of hieroglyphics, with a priestly figure, nearly life size, which in the stone still at Palenque is continued by another figure of a priest and six rows of hieroglyphics running from top to bottom. The piece at Washington is covered with similar rows of hieroglyphics, and contains ornaments to match the human figure on the left of the central stone. The startling resemblance to a cross on this tablet has excited much discussion; it is said that the presence of the emblem of the Christian faith caused it to be torn down and cast forth into the forest, which crowds around the ruins of the ancient city. But such representations of the symbol of an earlier date than the Christian era, have been found elsewhere in America. The cross was looked upon by the Mayas as the sign of the creative and fertilizing