El Palenque royal palace. Credit: Elsa M. Redmond and Charles Spencer. Abstract: Recently completed excavations at the site of El Palenque in Mexico’s Valley of Oaxaca have recovered the well-preserved remains of a palace complex dated by associated radiocarbon samples and ceramics to the Late Formative period or Late Monte Albán I phase (300–100 BC), the period of archaic state emergence in the region.
The El Palenque palace exhibits certain architectural and organizational features similar to the royal palaces of much later Mesoamerican states described by Colonial-period sources. The excavation data document a multifunctional palace complex covering a maximum estimated area of 2,790 m2 on the north side of the site’s plaza and consisting of both governmental and residential components.
The data indicate that the palace complex was designed and built as a single construction. The palace complex at El Palenque is the oldest multifunctional palace excavated thus far in the Valley of Oaxaca.