|According to the Tablet of the Cross, B'utz'aj Sak Chik was born in AD 459 and acceded to the throne of Palenque in AD 487. Until recently, these details were all that we had concerning this early Palenque king. Then, in 1993, Mexican archaeologists excavated Temple XVII at Palenque. The sanctuary tablet of this temple begins with the date 188.8.131.52.2 (AD 490). This date is just three years after B'utz'aj Sak Chik's accession, and the event has been interpreted in two different ways. |
The first, and widely held, interpretation is that the event recorded is the establishment or dedication of Lakamha'—Palenque itself. B'utz'aj Sak Chik is named as the protagonist of the passage, in the company of his successor-to-be (and likely his younger brother) Akul Mo' Nab' I. In this interpretation, the event was a very important one in Palenque's history, because the dedication of Lakamha' marks a shift away from another place name associated with the early rulers of Palenque: Toktan (some of the early Palenque kings are even called "Toktan Lord", and do not use the standard Palenque emblem glyph). In other words, according to this interpretation, the Sanctuary Tablet of Temple XVII records that the focus of the Palenque kingdom was moved in AD 490 from the earlier location at Toktan to Lakamha', under the leadership of B'utz'aj Sak Chik. We do not know if Toktan was another site, or if it was another location within the overall site that we call Palenque. If the latter, it is possible that Toktan is to be identified with an early part of the ruins called the Escondido Group, some 1300 meters to the west of Palenque's Palace.
The alternative interpretation takes issue with the above reconstruction. The verb (which cannot yet be read) occurs also in other sites, where its interpretation as something like 'dedicate' does not make so much sense. For example, on Bonampak Sculptured Stones 4 and 5 this verb is paired with the verb ‘to go out’. The implication in both cases is the verb in question here involves the return (Beliaev n.d.) In any case the concept of founding or dedicating Bonampak on two separate occasions (in fact the same verb occurs on Sculptured Stone 1 as well) does not seem to make a lot of sense.
B'utz'aj Sak Chik's death date has not survived, but Akul Mo' Nab' I acceded to the throne in AD 501. Most likely, then, B'utz'aj Sak Chik died just before this date, which would have been when he was about 41, and after a reign of 13 years.
B'utz'aj Sak Chik's name was first deciphered by Erik Boot (2000).