One particular sculpture that has captured the imagination of so many of us been that of Pakal, the image of a Maya ruler sculpted on the lid of a stone sarcophagus deep within the Temple of Inscriptions pyramid situated at the site of Palenque, Mexico.
In 1949, the Mexican archaeologist Alberto Ruz discovered a vaulted room beneath the floor of the Temple of Inscriptions, in which he also discovered this large sarcophagus. The most incredible reproduction of the images on this particular sarcophagus have been made by professor Marle Greene Roberston, through rubbings on rice paper.
The human figure portrayed in relief on that stone slab has become known as "the astronaut" to some; as "Pakal", a maya ruler, to others. From the glyphs one may view the subject as Pakal; from the visual theme one may see something that looks like a spacecraft within which he is seated. Pakal appears to be seated at a control panel within a housing device, very similar to today's space capsules.
This relief sculpture has been dated at around 690 our era, when there were apparently no space vehicles in existence; that we know of anyway. Pakal's posture and positioning appear to reflect the concept of movement, with his body leaning slightly forward, as though he were travelling towards a specific point, in a particular direction. Hugh Harleston, Jr., in 1974, produced a very vivid image and detailed analysis of the possibility for interpreting Pakal's housing device to represent a spacecraft.