Blog Archive

About Me

Mi foto
David Rodriguez
Ver todo mi perfil
free counters

Escuintla, Ciudad de las Palmeras

Escuintla, Ciudad de las Palmeras
Donde las Golondrinas Anidan

Páginas vistas en total

Entradas populares

Seguidores

domingo, 5 de septiembre de 2010
SITIOS MAYAS DE LA CUENCA
DEL USUMACINTA

Roberto García Moll

La Pequeña Acrópolis y el río Usumacinta, Yaxchilán. Foto: Michael Calderwood / Raíces
HISTORIA
A lo largo de los ríos que forman el sistema del Usumacinta se han localizado numerosos sitios arqueológicos correspondientes a la cultura maya del Clásico (250-900 d.C.), aunque sólo una parte se encuentran excavados y abiertos al público.
La ocupación de todas esas ciudades comenzó en el Clásico Temprano (250-600 d.C.) y culminó en el Tardío (600-900 d.C.). Muchas de ellas cuentan con inscripciones epigráficas en las que aparece lo que se ha identificado como glifo emblema. La mayoría de los investigadores ha atribuido a este glifo un significado asociado al nombre de una ciudad, lo que le da un carácter geográfico que ha permitido identificar a las grandes ciudades y a parte de sus sitios dependientes, así como establecer su posible territorio, el cual varió a través de los años. Además, el glifo emblema está relacionado con diferentes eventos, como la guerra y los matrimonios, los cuales se reflejaron en las dimensiones de las llamadas "entidades políticas", formadas por las ciudades y sus territorios.
Sabemos que en la cuenca del río Usumacinta se desarrollaron varias ciudades-Estado, cada una con un territorio y ciudades dependientes. Ya que sus límites variaron sensiblemente a lo largo del tiempo, tomaremos el año 731 d.C. como ejemplo de esa variabilidad territorial, pues representa un momento de apogeo.
A lo largo del Usumacinta y sus principales afluentes, de sur a norte, se encuentran las siguientes entidades políticas: Ceibal, dominando el área sur del río de La Pasión; aguas abajo, Dos Pilas; más abajo de La Pasión, Itzán, y donde nace el Usumacinta, en la unión del río de La Pasión y El Salinas, se encuentra Altar de Sacrificios. Sobre el Usumacinta y gran parte del Lacantún dominaba El Chorro. Hacia la parte media del Alto Usumacinta está Yaxchilán y aguas abajo, Piedras Negras. Al inicio del Bajo Usumacinta se localiza Pomoná. Además de Pomoná y Panhalé, pocos kilómetros al sur de esta ciudad, no se han reportado sitios arqueológicos del periodo Clásico con arquitectura de piedra. El último lugar es Moral Reforma, localizado sobre la margen del río San Pedro, en el actual estado de Tabasco, el cual posiblemente formó otra entidad política.
MEDIO AMBIENTE
La amplia región conocida actualmente como Selva Lacandona y parte del Petén Guatemalteco están surcadas en su parte media, de sur a norte, por el caudaloso río Usumacinta o río de los Monos, cuyo sistema hidrogr‡fico drena una superficie de 63 804 km2, que incluye los estados de Chiapas y Tabasco, así como una parte importante del Petén, en la República de Guatemala. Su cuenca se encuentra dividida en dos amplias zonas, el Alto y el Bajo Usumacinta. El volumen anual de la corriente del Bajo Usumacinta en la estación de aforo de Boca del Cerro es de 55 832 millones de metros cúbicos.
El sistema hidrográfico del Usumacinta es sin lugar a duda el más importante del sureste del país, y fue uno de los factores principales en el desarrollo de la cultura maya en las Tierras Bajas del sur. Los ríos de La Pasión y el Lacantún son navegables, no así el Alto Usumacinta, donde se forman numerosos raudales, y si bien es navegable en amplias secciones, hay otras con largos raudales, causados por desniveles o por el corte de grandes plegamientos, que impiden la continuidad. El Bajo Usumacinta de corriente lenta es navegable en toda su extensión.
Aquí debe recordarse que el embate contra la selva tropical en los límites de Tabasco y Chiapas comienza de forma intensa y sistemática con la introducción del ferrocarril del sureste en la década de los cincuenta del siglo pasado y, aun con mayor intensidad, con la construcción de la carretera Villahermosa-Escárcega a partir de los sesenta. Lo anterior, unido a amplias campañas de salubridad, principalmente la del combate al paludismo, permitió una rápida colonización de Chiapas y el sur de Tabasco y con ella la expansión de la ganadería. Este mismo proceso empezó una década más tarde en la cuenca del Alto Usumacinta, y al parecer tendrá las mismas consecuencias. De la selva que se regeneró en el periodo que va del colapso de la cultura maya al presente siglo, hoy sólo se conserva un reducido muestrario. Aun así, las Tierras Bajas con selva tropical forman una de las regiones con mayor biodiversidad en el mundo; en números redondos, cuenta con 226 especies de aves, 60 de mamíferos, 46 de reptiles y 40 de peces, además de una innumerable cantidad de insectos.
A lo largo de la historia, la explotación de la flora en esa región ha sido intensa y permanente. Se le ha utilizado como alimento, se le ha dado uso medicinal, se ha ocupado para fabricar elementos arquitectónicos, herramientas, canoas para navegar y fibras para tejer distintos objetos. Ha tenido también usos más simples: madera para el fuego usado en la preparación de alimentos o en la elaboración de cal. La agricultura es la actividad que más efectos tuvo y tiene sobre el paisaje de esta amplia región. El hombre la ha manejado de acuerdo a sus necesidades, adaptándose a las diferentes circunstancias; así, ha habido el desmonte de campos y la construcción de grandes obras: presas, canales, terrazas y campos levantados.
La fauna y la flora adquieren importancia en función de la forma en que son aprovechadas por el hombre y de la manera en que se integran a su cosmovisión.
RECORRIDO POR LAS ZONAS ARQUEOLÓGICAS
CEIBAL, GUATEMALA
Se localiza sobre el río de La Pasión y fue documentado por Teobert Maler desde principios del siglo XX. En él se llevaron a cabo trabajos arqueológicos a finales de los años sesenta y aunque el sitio es muy extenso se han restaurado pocos edificios. Destaca por sus 19 estelas, en las que se narran diferentes acontecimientos de la clase gobernante (700-870 d.C.), aunque se han encontrado restos del Precl‡sico, de antes de 250 d.C. (A.P.)
ALTAR DE SACRIFICIOS, GUATEMALA
Este pequeño asentamiento se localiza en la desembocadura del río de La Pasión y el Usumacinta, punto privilegiado para el comercio fluvial. Sus monumentos fechados abarcan desde 455 hasta 849 d.C., y el más famoso de ellos es el vaso policromo de la Estructura A-III, pues narra un acontecimiento en el que participa un gobernante de Yaxchilán. (A.P.)
PLANCHÓN DE LA FIGURAS, CHIAPAS
Se localiza sobre un afloramiento de roca caliza de unos 70 m de largo por 20 de ancho, en la margen izquierda del río Lacantún, pocos kilómetros antes de su desembocadura al Usumacinta. El sitio sólo es visible entre marzo y mayo, cuando las aguas del río bajan. En el pasado sólo se reportaron fragmentos de cerámica y objetos como cuentas de piedra verde y hachas, pero ningún asentamiento mayor en los alrededores. Posee 68 grabados sobre la superficie del afloramiento, entre ellos representaciones arquitectónicas; complejos diseños del juego del patolli; algunos personajes, dos de ellos en forma de estela con recuadros que semejan glifos; ejemplos de fauna, como aves, un mono, un venado y un saurio, además de motivos geométricos: círculos, rectángulos, espirales y líneas. Aunque no hay elementos que permitan ubicarlo cronológicamente, se le incluye en el Clásico maya (600-900 d.C.). Posiblemente era un punto de embarque y desembarque de productos que eran transportados en canoas a los ríos Lacantún, Usumacinta, La Pasión y Salinas, donde estaban los sitios mayores. (A.P.)
YAXCHILÁN CHIAPAS
A la información de los trabajos de los viajeros y exploradores que visitaron el sitio se han sumado las investigaciones relacionadas principalmente con las inscripciones jeroglíficas, lo que dio lugar a nuevas interpretaciones. Entre los enfoques pioneros están los de Heinrich Berlin, quien identificó el glifo emblema, y de Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1963-1964), que realizó un planteamiento general en sus trabajos sobre Piedras Negras y Yaxchilán. A partir de ellos se identificaron glifos con significados concretos, como el glifo emblema, nombres de personajes y glifos asociados a eventos como nacimiento, muerte, matrimonio, captura, captor, rito, etcétera.
La forma y distribución de Yaxchilán estuvo condicionada desde sus comienzos por dos accidentes naturales: el río Usumacinta, fuente importante de alimentación y comunicación, y la abrupta topografía del área, conformada por colinas de roca caliza, empleada como materia prima en las construcciones.
El centro ceremonial de Yaxchilán se distribuye a partir de un eje mayor, paralelo al río, una terraza en la que se extiende una plaza, a cuyos lados se concentra la mayor cantidad de edificios. Otras construcciones están adaptadas a los accidentes topográficos y se pueden distinguir cuatro conjuntos principales.
La orientación de los edificios parece no obedecer a ninguna norma precisa y más bien se halla dictada por la topografía. Tampoco parece haber relación entre los distintos grupos de estructuras, pues sólo algunas forman plazas irregulares, como los conjuntos I, II y IV. En la mayoría de los edificios la fachada principal está orientada hacia el río y posiblemente es en el lado guatemalteco donde se encuentra gran parte de los asentamientos habitacionales.
Gracias a la interpretación de las inscripciones contenidas en 60 dinteles, 35 estelas, 5 escaleras y 20 altares, se logró identificar a cuatro gobernantes principales, que abarcan el periodo que va de 700 a 810 d.C. El primero es Escudo Jaguar (726-742), considerado fundador de una dinastía y a quien se deben numerosas conquistas. También se asocian a este gobernante los nombres de tres mujeres y aunque aún no se establece la relación que guardaban con él, se cree que se trata de sus cónyuges.
Pájaro Jaguar (752-770) ascendió al poder 11 años después de la muerte de su antecesor; aparentemente, durante esos 11 años gobernó una de las esposas de Escudo Jaguar (742-752). Según se cuenta en los jeroglíficos, Pájaro Jaguar tuvo muchas dificultades para probar su legitimidad como sucesor. Su gobierno, en opinión de Proskouriakoff, se distinguió por una vigorosa actividad constructiva, aunque fueron la diplomacia y la administración, más que las conquistas militares, sus principales preocupaciones. A diferencia de su antecesor hay muchos monumentos que señalan el origen de su linaje y registran la fecha de su ascensión.
El último gobernante recibió el nombre de Descendiente de Escudo Jaguar (770-810), al cual se menciona como captor de dos prisioneros y quien, según algunos registros, tuvo conflictos con sus vecinos, con lo cual muy pronto declinó la elaboración de inscripciones.
Con apoyo de las fechas inscritas en los monumentos escultóricos y tomando en cuenta la variedad de estilos arquitectónicos es posible establecer, en forma tentativa, una secuencia de las actividades constructivas ligadas al desarrollo del sitio y de algunos eventos y gobernantes. En un principio, alrededor de 400 d.C., Yaxchilán debió establecerse como una pequeña aldea de agricultores y pescadores a orillas del Usumacinta, dependiente de algœn otro centro de mayor importancia, probablemente Piedras Negras, situado aguas abajo. Sobre este momento se cuenta con poca información.
Con el paso del tiempo Yaxchilán adquirió mayor importancia a nivel regional, con lo cual comenzó su diferenciació estilística en arquitectura (600-650 d.C.), la que sería similar a la de Palenque: a base de paramentos verticales, que constituyen el primer cuerpo, y dinteles de madera sobre los vanos. En el exterior se ven paramentos inclinados, que forman el segundo cuerpo, sobre los que hay grandes mascarones con representaciones de deidades solares. Sobre la cubierta y al centro de las estructuras se encuentran altas cresterías, formadas por dos muros calados que corren paralelamente y están unidos al centro, sobre los cuales también se colocó una profusa decoración a base de figuras modeladas en estuco.
El siguiente periodo claramente identificable es el que se asocia con uno de sus principales gobernantes: Escudo Jaguar, con dos etapas, primero de 726 a 742, y luego de 742 a 752, en que no hay rasgos específicos diferentes. A este lapso se asocian construcciones como el Juego de Pelota o Edificio 14, el Edificio 19 o Laberinto y un par de estelas situadas en la Pequeña Acróppolis.
Entre 752 y 770 se establece el gobierno de Pájaro Jaguar. Es seguramente durante este periodo cuando la ciudad adquiere su fisonomía actual, ya que es el de mayor actividad constructiva y de erección de monumentos escultóricos que relatan eventos relacionados principalmente con este personaje. Es también el momento de mayor expansión territorial, gracias a conquistas militares y alianzas matrimoniales. El penúltimo periodo reconocible mediante las inscripciones va de 770 a 810 y se asocia al personaje identificado en los glifos como Descendiente de Escudo Jaguar. Es el comienzo del llamado "colapso" de la cultura maya del Clásico, durante el cual, al parecer, se construyen dos edificios principales, el 2 y el 3, así como los escalones del 20 y la Estela 4 al frente. En esta época se estrechan más los lazos entre Yaxchilán y Bonampak, mediante el matrimonio de la mujer conocida como Dama Conejo de Yaxchilán con Chaan Muan, señor de Bonampak.
Para el año 810 en adelante no poseemos registro alguno de estelas o dinteles, por lo que suponemos que esta pr‡ctica fue totalmente abandonada y el sitio, con diferencia de sólo algunos años, estuvo inmerso en el colapso de la región. (A.P.)
BONAMPAK, CHIAPAS
El máximo esplendor del sitio coincide con la parte final del Clásico maya y su total desintegración ocurre alrededor de 820 d.C. Entre el 6 y el 9 de febrero de 1946, John G. Bourne y H. Carl Frey, guiados por un chiclero de nombre Acasio Chan, arribaron a un nuevo sitio arqueológico llamado en un principio "Ruin 10". En mayo, en una nueva visita al sitio, Giles G. Healey, luego de un extenso recorrido, descubrió un templo, en cuyo interior encontró las magníficas pinturas murales que le dan su nombre actual.
El sitio está conformado por un núcleo de construcciones monumentales, del cual aún no se establece su extensión y complejidad cultural. La ciudad constaba de varios grupos de arquitectura mayor, así como de otros de tipo doméstico, destinados a la habitación.
Al igual que muchas otras ciudades prehispánicas, Bonampak es producto de varios cientos de años de actividad constructiva y de más de 200 de ocupación continua. Por ello su arquitectura posee diversos estilos, orientaciones, sistemas constructivos, adaptaciones y modificaciones.
El núcleo de arquitectura monumental considerado como centro cívico-religioso se distribuye alrededor de una gran plaza rectangular, en cuya parte central y media se levantan las estelas 1 y 4. Este gran espacio abierto se encuentra limitado al sur por la Acrópolis, al este por largas plataformas con las estelas lisas 5 y 6, y al norte y al oeste por edificios, de los cuales los m‡s complejos son los del norte, elaborados basamentos entre los que destaca el nœmero 15, que alberga la Estela 7.
En el extremo sur se levanta, sobre una colina de roca caliza, el llamado conjunto arquitectónico del sur o Acrópolis, donde se encuentra la Gran Plaza que alberga al centro la estela 1 —sobre un pequeño basamento—, labrada sólo en una de sus caras. La escena que representa se divide en dos por una banda de glifos cuyo texto establece la genealogía del personaje principal, conocido como Chaan Muan, señor de Bonampak, y se complementa con textos jeroglíficos en los que se registra una fecha que ha sido interpretada como 782, así como su nombre y título.
El Edificio 1 o de las Pinturas se localiza en el extremo derecho del primer nivel. Su planta es rectangular y en la fachada principal se encuentran los vanos de acceso a las tres cámaras interiores. En el interior se ve la típica bóveda maya, así como dos modificaciones posteriores a la construcción general de la estructura. La primera consistió en los muros que dividieron la larga crujía en tres cámaras; la segunda fueron unas banquetas decoradas en su parte frontal con grecas en rojo y blanco.
Los murales de Bonampak fueron pintados, en una amplia gama de tintes de origen mineral y vegetal, sobre una gruesa capa, compuesta de cal apagada y polvo de piedra que cumple las funciones de arena, en una superficie de aproximadamente 112 m2 y en tres cámaras, de la siguiente manera: 77 figuras humanas y 53 textos jeroglíficos en el cuarto uno, 126 figuras y 35 textos en el cuarto dos, y 67 y 20 en el cuarto tres, lo que hace un total de 270 figuras humanas y 108 textos jeroglíficos. Asimismo, hay 30 elementos relacionados con deidades, todos situados en el cerramiento de la bóveda y distribuidos de la siguiente manera: 8 en el cuarto uno, 15 en el dos y 7 en el tres.
En promedio, la escala de cada una de las figuras humanas es de entre 85 y 87 cm. La proporción no indica la jerarquía de los personajes, la cual se señala por la superficie que ocupan y por la complejidad del atuendo; los más importantes son más voluminosos y hay una distancia mayor entre uno y otro. Cada representación refiere a un personaje diferente y no se repiten ni las posiciones ni la indumentaria, lo que hace suponer que se trata de personas vivas de la época.
Las escenas principales que se representan son: la preparación para la danza, en el cuarto 1; la guerra y la captura de los prisioneros, presentación y autosacrificios de éstos, en el cuarto 2 y la ceremonia del sacrificio y danza sobre el Gran Basamento, en el cuarto 3. (A.P.)
EL CAYO, CHIAPAS
Este importante sitio arqueológico se localiza en ambas riberas, en un punto del río Usumacinta en que se torna ancho y lento. Aunque se trató de conocer a mayor profundidad el asentamiento a principios de 1990, la referencia principal es el texto de Teobert Maler en el que describe los cinco templos, que forman el conjunto principal, situados en la sección superior del gran basamento escalonado y los otros dos de la parte baja, a cada lado de la escalinata. Al frente de ellos se localizaron las estelas 1 y 2, así como un altar central. Asimismo, Maler menciona la existencia de un dintel que tiene labrado en la parte inferior un personaje central y un amplio texto jeroglífico. También en los noventa se supo de la existencia de un altar labrado en la cara superior con un personaje sedente. El sitio no tiene trabajos mayores de exploración y consolidación arquitectónica. (N.A.P.)
LA MAR, CHIAPAS
Se trata de otro importante sitio dependiente de Piedra Negras, en el que Teobert Maler fotografió dos estelas, hoy en el Museo Regional de Chiapas, en Tuxtla Gutiérrez. Los edificios no han sido explorados, aunque se cree que su plaza estaba rodeada de construcciones y basamentos rematados por templos. (N.A.P.)
PIEDRAS NEGRAS, GUATEMALA
Se encuentra 40 km río abajo de Yaxchil‡n y no se cuenta con muchos trabajos sobre su vasta arquitectura monumental, aunque es ampliamente conocido por sus monumentos escultóricos, como estelas, tableros, altares y un dintel. Éstos fueron la base para la nueva propuesta de Tatiana Proskouriakoff sobre el contenido histórico de las inscripciones mayas y los gobernantes y acontecimientos relacionados. El asentamiento está en la parte alta de una colina y está formado, por lo menos, por tres grandes grupos arquitectónicos, entre los que destacan aquellos localizados en la Acrópolis del Norte, así como los que se agrupan alrededor de amplias plazas. Sobresale en su arquitectura el uso de algunas cubiertas planas, posiblemente realizadas a base de vigas, entre las que abundan las que poseen bóvedas. (A.P.)
CHINIKIHÁ, CHIAPAS
Situado sobre uno de los afluentes del Usumacinta: el Chinikihá, se trata de otro de los sitios reconocidos por Teobert Maler. Éste registró tres dinteles con inscripciones situados sobre edificios con bóveda, localizados en la parte alta de una plataforma, así como una estructura para el juego de la pelota. Probablemente era una de las ciudades dependientes de la entidad política de Pomoná. (N.A.P.)
PANHALÉ, TABASCO
El sitio, aún por explorarse, se encuentra en la parte alta del cañón que forma Boca del Cerro, punto donde termina el Alto Usumacinta y comienza el Bajo Usumacinta. El asentamiento, del que se conoce la Estela 1 —con la fecha 830 d.C.—, dependía políticamente de Pomoná antes de su total desaparición. (N.A.P.)
POMONÁ, TABASCO
Localizado sobre una terraza de arcilla y cantos rodados, el sitio fue construido con roca caliza, material común en toda el área maya, aunque en este caso el afloramiento se localiza 10 km al sur, donde se encuentran las primeras estribaciones de las sierras.
Fue en esta amplia región, en un punto intermedio entre Palenque y los sitios a orillas del río San Pedro, y al norte de Piedras Negras —en la cuenca del Usumacinta—, donde se estableció Pomoná. Destaca la intensa relación que tuvo la ciudad con otros sitios mayores, como Piedras Negras y Palenque, así como las mœltiples relaciones económicas y políticas con sitios menores de la zona, como Panhalé, Chinikihá, La Mar y El Cayo.
Es probable que Pomoná comenzara como una aldea de dimensiones reducidas, durante el Clásico Temprano, dedicada a la agricultura y al intercambio de mercancías entre la Costa del Golfo y las Tierras Bajas del sur, que se convirtió r‡pidamente en un sitio con planeación arquitectónica.
Entre los monumentos escultóricos con inscripciones y las representaciones antropomorfas de esa época destacan estelas, tableros y alfardas, lo que nos permite sugerir dos fuertes influencias. Por un lado, los tableros y alfardas evocan a Palenque, cuya abundancia de estos elementos es notable y, por otro, la distribución las estelas se extendió por la cuenca del Alto Usumacinta y la región del Petén, sitios con los cuales tuvo contactos.
A la fecha se sabe de dos lugares relacionados estrechamente con Pomoná: Panhalé, situado sobre el borde derecho que forma Boca del Cerro y del cual se conocen varias estructuras —como la Estela 1, fechada alrededor de 830— y el glifo emblema de Pomoná; y Chinikihá, localizado 12 km al sur de Pomoná.
Entre sus inscripciones destaca su glifo emblema, gracias al cual se sabe que se mantuvo durante largos periodos como entidad independiente y que en varias ocasiones se vio involucrada en eventos militares con Palenque y con La Mar, este último sitio dependiente de Piedras Negras.
La ciudad está formada por seis conjuntos arquitectónicos monumentales, distribuidos en una superficie de 175 ha, lo que confiere al sitio un carácter disperso, pues entre un conjunto y otro hay por lo menos 300 m, que probablemente se comunicaban mediante un camino o sacbé. Hasta ahora se ha explorado y consolidado el Conjunto I, el cual consta de 13 edificios distribuidos en una plaza rectangular. El extremo sur es abierto y ahí se ven amplias escalinatas que conducen al Conjunto I. Más distantes, hacia el sur, se localizan los conjuntos V y VI, mientras que el III se encuentra al este y el IV al oeste. Entre estos seis conjuntos arquitectónicos mayores se distribuyen varios grupos de montículos bajos, los cuales aparentemente eran unidades habitacionales, así como terrazas y algunas rampas o escaleras. (A.P.)
Sitio abierto al público: A.P.; sitio no abierto al público: N.A.P.



los mayas al borde del río Usumacinta

Yaxchilán es otra de las ruinas mayas típicas del recorrido denominado Ruta Maya. Cuando éste se hace en pocos días, suele ser una de las candidatas a salirse de la lista de visitas obligatorias, pero sí hay tiempo, merece la pena verlas por lo distintas.

Si las grandes ruinas Chichen Itza, Uxmal, Palenque, Tikal se reconocen por su tamaño, su facilidad de visita, su accesibilidad, tanto Yaxchilan como Bonampak se caracterizan por estar situadas en lugares más recónditos de la selva y cuyo acceso más sencillo es a través del río Usumacinta.

Se sabe que esta ciudad fue una de las importantes en su época de mayor esplendor y que tenía relaciones con Tikal, Bonampak y Piedras Negras. Sus años gloriosos fueron entre el 600 y 800 dC.

Geograficamente Yaxchilán está situada en la llamada Selva Lacandona, en la zona de San Cristobal de las Casas, al este, casi en la frontera con Guatemala.

A pesar de que Palenque parece más alejado que San Cristobal, la mayoría de las visitas parten de Palenque. Nosotros así lo hicimos de buena mañana. Tras un par de horas de recorrido por carretera, llegamos al río Usumacinta donde cogimos unas pequeñas lanchas en las que nos desplazamos otra hora más. No sé calcular las distancias, porque tanto la furgonetilla como la lancha no parecían ultimo modelo, e iban bastante despacio.

Creo que también había posibilidad de hacer el viaje en avioneta, con la que se ganará tiempo y será más caro, pero prefiero el viaje por el río que nos permitió ver paisajes muy bonitos.

Las ruinas se extienden por una superficie bastante amplia en varios niveles. 
Justo al llegar, al nivel del río, se encuentra la llamada Gran Plaza. El primer edificio que vemos es una especie de pasillo largo con pequeños aposentos a los lados, que por desgracia estaba lleno de pequeños murciélagos, lo que hizo que no apreciara nada de lo que alli había y saliera pitando.
Unos cuantos edificios más completan esta Gran Plaza, donde se pueden ver estelas y muros grabados. 
Dicen que después de los mayas, durante años, los lacandones, habitantes de esta selva, utilizaron esta zona también para sus ritos religiosos.

Subiendo el monte, vamos camino de la Acrópolis. Hay muchos edificios que están medio ocultos entre la vegetación y por ellos, que nos sirven de escalones, vamos subiendo hacia la parte más elevada. Aquí encontramos otros edificios, ya al descubierto. El más grande se llama Estructura 33. En esta zona, es donde se aprecia mejor la decoración de los edificios.
Una colonia de monos aulladores nos recibe cuando llegamos y realmente, también consigue expulsarnos de su territorio a base de chillidos insoportables.

De vuelta hacia el río, por la parte sur, encontramos la Acrópolis Sur, tercer grupo importante en estas ruinas. Esta se haya también bastante cubierta.

A diferencia de las grandes ruinas, que están ya muy preparadas para el turismo y la mayoría no sólo está limpiado de vegetación y restaurado, sino, que incluso está reconstruído, estas ruinas de Yaxchilán están mucho menos preparadas. 
Aquí tienes más la sensación de estar descubriendolas tú mismo, y que por alli no ha pasado nadie desde hace muchos años: todo comido por la vegetación, nada de escaleras ni caminos preparados y desde luego, mucho menos, nada de bares ni tiendas de souvenirs. Por lo menos asi lo era en el año 2000, que es cuando yo lo visité.

Es por esta razón, por la que me parece muy interesante la visita a Yaxchilán. No tiene la grandiosidad de las otras, pero tiene ese halo de autenticidad, que quizás en las otras se va perdiendo.



Becán Mayan ruins in southern Campeche, Mexico

Partial text and site map photoed on-site, provided by INAH Insituto National de Atropologia e Historia.

Name and discovery

Becán was "discovered" by archaeologists Karl Ruppert and John Denison in 1934. The name, which means trench, was given to Becán by Ruppert and Denison who named it after the conspicuous system of moats that surrounds significant portions of the site. The ancient Maya name is not known. From 1969 to 1971 archaeological excavations were made at Becán sponsored by Tulane University and the National Geographic Society.

Our first visit

When we first visited the ruins in 1992 we noticed white pyramids peering above the jungle. No one was there to even take our entry fee. Today, there is a small pueblo and the ruins have a proper entry area, bathrooms, and parking. Presently, visitors can walk to 20 major constructions associated with the plazas and patios, distributed over three hectares. The primary section of Becán is ringed by a moat and there are remains of a wall, in some places almost 11 feet tall. The digging of ditches and construction of protective walls is very rare in the Maya civilization. This man-made ditch is slightly over 2 kilometers long and was excavated in the late pre-Classic between 100 and 250 A.D. This trench is one of the oldest known defensive systems in Mexico.

History and surroundings

Becán was the political, economical and religious capital of the province known today as Rio Bec to which the sites of Xpuhil, Chicanna, Puerto Roci, Okolhuitz, Channa and Ramonal belong. It is strategically located at the base of the Yucatan Pennisula on the route which unites the river and lagoon zone of southwestern Campeche, with the territories of Chetumal Bay. The sites in the Peten Region are found to the south of Becán. And to the north are the Chenes (wells) settlements in the northeastern Campeche, with whom Becán also had relations.

Beginnings

The earliest archaeological evidence from Becán dates from 550 B.C. period, a time when the Olmec culture was declining at sites such as La Venta in Tabasco. The Apogee at Becán, reflected in the construction peak and the population density, took place bewteen 600 and 800 A.D. Becán was abandoned around 1200 A.D.

Find Becán in Campeche

Becán is located just beyond the Quintana Roo-Campeche state line, 6 kilometers west of the town of Xphil. The turn to Becán is marked by a highway sign, and the archaeological zone is about 500 meters to the north of the highway. Because of Becán's significance to the Rio Bec area it is an important ruin to see when visiting the area. Becán is roughly 3.5 hours from Tulum, driving south on highway 307 then west on 186.

Map of Becán's archaeological zone




Bonampak - Mayan ruins near the Usumacinta river in Chiapas, Mexico

Arriving at Bonampak

After a wild bus ride piloted by a local Lacandon Maya we arrive at the Bonampak ruins in Chiapas, Mexico. The archaeological zone is small but Bonampak has some very significant relics—it is famous for its monolithic limestone stela and story-telling murals which gave archaeologists their first clues to the Maya's darker, more violent past.
The jungle is massive and towering trees circle the site. Perhaps the height of the trees were the inspiration for the tall stela and high pyramid of the archaeological zone. The Usumacinta river is nearby but from the looks of it someone (possibly the archaeologists?) used to brave the perils to land on this jungle airstrip, zero room for error here (photos below).

First impressions

The historical significance of the stela is better described by others but their towering power is easily felt by anyone who visits here. It's a easy stretch of imagination to contemplate how the ruling class could impose their will on those who served and fought for this Maya urban center.

Histories intertwined

Bonampak traded and fought with other Maya tribes centered in equal or greater cities like Yaxchilan and Piedras Negras, which also front onUsumacinta river. More distant Palenque also used the river for commerce. The river bound the various tribes together for trade and at the same time pitted them against each other in battles for territory and dominance.

Murals of Bonampak

"Edificio de Las Pinturas" (right photo below) houses the famed murals in three separate chambers. They were first shown by local Lacandon to a modern outsider, photographer Giles Healey, in 1946. The well preserved murals cover the walls and ceilings and are believed to have been painted around 800 AD, near the height of Maya civilization. They depict in great detail the rituals of the royal court including human sacrifice, costumes, musical instruments, and the weapons of war.











Calakmul Mayan ruins/ archaeological site, Campeche Mexico

Calakmul, Mayan archaeological site, Campeche Mexico

Calakmul Biosphere Reserve

World Heritage status awarded in 2002 as a cultural or natural site which deserves protection for the benefit of all humanity. In addition to Calakmul's archaeological significance, it is also know as a refuge for birds with over 235 species of birds, of which 76% are residents and 24% migratory birds, residing in either summer or winter.

Early history

Due to Calakmul's location in the geographic center of the Maya region (the "Petén") it received cultural influences from both north and south. Calakmul along with the Maya sites of El Mirador, Nakbé, and Uaxactún, formed a coalition during the Formative period, constantly engaging in conflicts with its southern neighbors, especially Tikal. Calakmul remained a rival to Tikal from that time on.

Classic period

Like the majority of great Classic period centers of the southern Maya lowlands, Calakmul eventually arrived at a decline. Nevertheless, a political reorientation during the middle of the Late Classic period allowed Calakmul to take part in northern traditions, and as a result, it was able to take advantage of the regions prosperity. During the Pre-classic period activity was mainly of a ceremonial nature. The presence of offerings in Calakmul buildings, such as that of effigy incensories, evidence human activity, dating until the Late Postclassic period, in the Peten region of Campeche.

The high temples provide spectacular views of Calakmul. Climb the stairways with caution



Numerous plaques describe the architectural and historic significance of the temples


Be sure to carry sufficient water with you, available at the entrance to the ruins


Another high view showing a raised platform "step" in this pyramid's construction


Kay takes a breather at the base of a temple. Please read more about Calakmul's history below

History & architecture

Calakmul evidences an uninterrupted architectural sequence which extends across fourteen centuries (550 B.C. - 900 A.D.). Its outstanding architecture includes figures sculpted in stone and modeled in stucco. Other noteworthy features of the site are a great quantity of stelae and dated monuments, upon which the history of Calakmul's rulers is recorded.
Toward the end of the Middle Pre-classic period (700 - 300 B.C.), in the Maya region, important public urban works were undertaken. During this period the largest structures of Calakmul's history were constructed. This was also when the site's first public architecture appeared, marking an effort to define administrative activities.
During the 5th century in Calakmul, extensive remodeling was initiated, although this activity did not include a modification of the city's urban plan, which was established in the Pre-classic period. Among these works is the noteworthy remodeling of the great foundation of Structure II.
The rulers who inherited the throne of Calakmul initiated public as well as private urban works, such as palatial complexes, in various sectors of the city. They built structures to be used in artistic production and specialized craftsmanship. It was here where members of the royal lineage ordered the making of ceramics and other objects used in rituals. It is likely that toward the end of the Late Classic period (600-800 A.D.), a series of reforms and public works were initiated, changing the city's image.
The peak of greatest prosperity in Calakmul occurred during the Late Classic period, during which the majority of monuments, known as smooth stelae (or estelas lisas) were erected in the Great Plaza. Construction at the time, however, was restricted to minor remodeling. This era's high yield with regard to ceramic production, along with that of the Early Classic period, indicate that both periods represent times of greatest human population at the site.

Calakmul is remote, 50 kilmeters (31 mi.) off the highway






Chacchoben Mayan Ruins in La Costa Maya, southern Quintana Roo, Mexico

 Las Vacijas pyramid of the Gran Basamento and Edificio 24 in Plaza B

The Place of Red Corn

Roughly 110 miles (177 kilometers) south of Tulum Mexico are the seldom seen Mayan ruins of Chacchoben, an excellent but somewhat distant day-trip to see a high, broad-leaf jungle ruin site. These majestic, mostly restored temple pyramids take on a mystical quality surrounded by towering mahogany trees, enormous cohune palms, strangler figs and the hanging tentacles of banyan trees. Chacchoben means "the Place of Red Corn", in Spanish "Lugar de Maiz Colorado".
Edificio 24 in Plaza B is the first structure that you see but even more impressive temples lay behind in the Gran Basamento; the tallest one being Temple 1. Some low structures are in Plaza Las Vias canopied by a forest of Cohune palms and mahogany trees. The archaeologists think Chacchoben was settled about 200 BC but the buildings excavated thus far date from around 700 AD. Chacchoben has a wonderful primal feel surrounded by tall palms and trees, many with long beards of Spanish moss waving in the gentle breeze. Climbing on the ruins is prohibited but just walking around this site is well worth the trip. If you're into remote ruins this is a nice one. Chacchoben is roughly the same distance south of the Riviera Maya as Chichen Itza is west of the Riviera Maya. Hours are 8:00am-5:00pm, Monday thru Sunday and the entrance fee when we visited was 30 pesos/person.

Step pyramid construction, rounded corner and the side of Templo 1


(left) stairway up to the Gran Basamento, huge elevated terrace with pyramids on top
(right) Kay stands on the roots of a mahogany tree in Plaza B


(left) hanging roots of a banyan tree
Spanish moss waves in the breeze on a tall tree (right)


(left) moss and micro flowers on tree bark
a blooming orchid clings to a tree by Templo 1 (right)


(left) cohune palms on the trail - (middle) vines on a tree
(right) narrow space between low ruins


(left) view of Temple 1 - (middle) terraced plaza of the Gran Basamento


Templo 1




Chac Mool ruins

We tied up the boat at the dock and with no one in sight, walked up the sandy access road toward the beach. The ruins were just a short walk down the road to the right. Chac Mool is a small but interesting archaeological site, partially because of its remoteness, but also because it has some similarities to Chichen Itza and Tulum. Chichen Itza, because there have been several Chac Mool statues found there, and Tulum because these ruins are also located next to the Caribbean. Having the freedom to explore the site was a privilege and we owe a BIG thank you to Tom at Playa Blanca and the Casa Blanca Fishing Lodge for their gracious hospitality. We hope to return soon to do some fly fishing, and to see the Tupac ruins which are a short paddle through the mangrove from the Chac Mool ruins.



The Chac Mool chamber

The photos below show the namesake for the site, the reclining Chac Mool which represents one of the most powerful deities of the ancient Maya. Chac was the God of rain and thunder, and his color was red. I found it interesting that one of the Chac Mool's hands was red (below), apparently a remnant from its creators. There were also traces of paint over a doorway to one of the buildings higher up, on top of the elevated plaza area (photo above). Across from this plaza was another raised plaza with a number of short columns in rows, also very similar to Chichen Itza though much smaller in scale (3rd photo from bottom).








Chicanná Mayan ruins in southern Campeche, Mexico

Creation and rediscovery

Chicanná was erected at the base of the Yucatan Peninsula. Its builder took advantage of a slight natural elevation to counteract several groups of structures which served as rooms and enclosures for carrying out ritual ceremonies. Chicanná was discovered and named by Jack D. Eaton in 1966 during reconnaissance of the area prior to the formal start of the National Geographic/Tulane University archaeological study, centered at Becán. The site was given its name at the time of its discovery and no doubt refers to the facade of Structure II: chi, mouth - can, serpent - and na house; translated this way it alludes to the House of the Serpent Mouth.

Chicanná and its near neighbor, Becán

Both cities were built by the Maya during the same time period, roughly A.D. 600 to 830. However, the architecture at the two sites is quite distinct. Due to its dimensions and the rich decoration of the buildings, Chicanná has been considered a small elitist center of Becan, that is, like a residential zone of the rulers of the ancient regional capital.

Trade and occupation

Chicanná had important commercial connections with other settlements as attested to by the presence of non-local materials found at the site, which include objects from the Guatemala highlands and Honduras. Most likely many of these products were brought to Becán and then distributed. Evidence of occupation dates from the Late Preclassic period (300 BC to 250 AD). The last stages of the activity at Chicanná have been dated to the Early Postclassic (1100 AD).

Rio Bec region

Chicanná is one of 45 sites located in the Rio Bec region. This category refers to the shape and decoration of the buildings, which together constitute the architectural style. Consequently, it is common to find the presence of elongated buildings flanked by slender towers with rounded corners, as well as the enormous representation of Itzamna, principal god of the Maya pantheon, also known as the East Monster, on the facade of the lower construction.





Chichen Itza
Mayan ruins/ archaeological site in Yucatan, Mexico


Chichen Itza - sacred city of the Itza

Chichen Itza (chee-chehn eet-sah) in Maya, was a sacred city of the Itza and the name literally means: "Mouth of the well of the Itza". Located 75 miles east of Merida, the capital of the State of Yucatan, Mexico; this archaeological site is rated among the most important of the Maya culture and covers an area of approximately six square miles where hundreds of buildings once stood. Now most are mounds but more than thirty may still be seen by tourists.

The two groups

The ruins are divided into two groups. One group belongs to the classic Maya Period and was built between the 7th and 10th centuries A.D., at which time the city became a prominent ceremonial center. The other group corresponds to the Maya-Toltec Period, from the later part of the 10th century to the beginning of the 13th century A.D. This area includes the Sacred Well and most of the outstanding ruins.

Beginings

When Chichen-Itza was first settled it was largely agricultural. Because of the many cenotes in the area, it would have been a good place to settle. During the Central Phase of the Classic Period, referred to as Florescence, (625 -800 A.D.) arts and sciences flourished here. It was at this time that Chichen-Itza became a religious center of increasing importance, evidenced by the buildings erected: the Red House, the House of the Deer, the Nunnery and its Annex, the Church, the Akab Dzib, the Temple of the Three Lintels and the House of Phalli.
Toward the end of the Classic Period, from 800 to 925 A.D., the foundations of this magnificent civilization weakened, and the Maya abandoned their religions centers and the rural land around them. New, smaller centers were built and the great cities like Chichen-Itza were visited only to perform religious rites or bury the dead. The Itza people abandoned their city by the end of the 7th century A.D. and lived on the west coast of the peninsula for about 250 years. However, by the 10th century A.D. they returned to Chichen-Itza.

The alliance

Around 1000 A.D. the Itza allied themselves with two powerful tribes, Xio and Cocom, both claiming to be descendants of the Mexicans. This alliance was favorable to the Itza for about two centuries. During this time, the people of Chichen-Itza added to the site by constructing magnificent buildings bearing the touch of Toltec art: porches, galleries, colonnades and carvings depicting serpents, birds and Mexican gods.

Toltec influence

The Toltec influenced the Itza in more ways than just architecture. They also imposed their religion on the Itza, which meant human sacrifice on a large scale. They expanded their dominions in northern Yucatan with an alliance with Mayapan and Uxmal. As the political base of Chichen-Itza expanded, the city added even more spectacular buildings: the Observatory, Kukulkan's Pyramid, the Temple of the Warriors, The Ball Court, and The Group of the Thousand Columns. The Temple of the Warriors has pillars sculptured in bas-relief, which have retained much of their original color. Murals once adorned its walls. It is surrounded by numerous ruined buildings known as the Group of a Thousand Columns. The Cenote of Sacrifice was reserved for rituals involving human sacrifice involving the rain God. The victims were not only young women, but also children and elderly men and women.

El Castillo equinox event Kukulkan's pyramid

Possibly the best known construction on the site is Kukulkan's Pyramid. El Castillo (Kukulkan-Quetzalcoatl), a square-based, stepped pyramid that is approximately 75 feet tall. This pyramid was built for astronomical purposes and during the vernal equinox (March 20) and the autumnal equinox (September 21) at about 3pm the sunlight bathes the western balustrade of the pyramid's main stairway. This causes seven isosceles triangles to form imitating the body of a serpent 37 yards long that creeps downwards until it joins the huge serpent's head carved in stone at the bottom of the stairway. Mexican researcher Luis El Arochi calls it "the symbolic descent of Kukulkan" (the feathered serpent), and believes it could have been connected with agricultural rituals.



Cobá is a must see

Cobá is one of the most important archaeological sites in the area. Built between two lakes during the Classic Period (600-900 A.D.) it was at one time a very large city spread over 80 square kilometers. The main pyramid, Nohoch Mul meaning 'large hill', is 42 meters tall (138 feet) and is the highest in the Yucatan peninsula -photo below. Another pyramid known asTemplo de la Iglesia, 'Temple of the Church', is second in height at Cobá and from its summit there is a spectacular view of lake Macanxoc.

The Maya prospered here

Between 400 to 1100 A.D., in Cobá's heyday, nearly 50,000 people lived within Cobá confines, but despite its size it is not visited as frequently as some other major Maya sites. It stands isolated and off the coast, between the coastal town of Tulum, and Valladolid in the state of Yucatan. Besides the structures there are mysterious ancient roads through the jungle called Sacbes which radiate out from Cobá. Smaller trails lead to other aspects of the ruins. These ruins were opened to the public in 1973 but only a few of Cobá estimated 6,000 structures are restored or uncovered. Most are still buried under centuries of thick jungle growth. The top of the gigantic Temple of the Church affords a fantastic view of Lake Macanxoc to the east and Lake Cobá to the southwest. You'll also see many stele, glyphs, and sculptures showing weathered carvings of Gods, actors and complex inscriptions.
The restored structures are in 5 groups connected by shady, well groomed trails under the jungle canopy. You may see or hear monkeys and an incredible variety of jungle birds. Walking can be hot and the air humid so wear comfortable shoes and carry some water if you really want to see all the major areas. The Nohoch Mul Group, Conjunto Pinturas and Macanxoc Group can all be seen in about 2.5 hours at a leisurely pace. Map of the ruins

Stele

There are a large number of stele at the Coba site with thatched roofs (recent additions) above them - presumably to protect them. The stele are fairly large stone slabs which have drawings and glyphs. One stele is dated November 30, 780 A.D. in Mayan glyphs.

Sacbe - the white road

Cobá was the hub of a system of roads called sacbes, constructed by the Maya for commerce and general travel by foot. There were about 50 sacbes which were between 10 and 30ft wide; one was about 100km long. They were built of limestone and it is estimated that the manpower and effort required for their construction exceeded that for the stone buildings and temples. It is interesting that the Maya did not use the wheel to aid transport even though they were familiar with it. Transportation of goods along the sacbes was done by people carrying parcels. Some of the sacbes are long enough to have been seen by astronauts on a shuttle mission.

Getting there

From Tulum at the traffic light insection of the Coba road and highway 307, travel west (away from the beach) and go about 30 minutes to the ruins (follow the signs). There are two interesting towns along the way selling arts and crafts, and a few rustic restaurants on the road as well. Watch the road for potholes, there are also speed bumps at at the villages! Food and lodging can be found near the ruins.

photos of Cobá Mayan ruins












Dzibilchaltun
Mayan archaeological site, Mayan ruins near Merida, Yucatan Mexico

Temple of the Dolls

Templo de las Siete Muñecas is an imposing looking building on a pyramidal base with a short tower atop its roof. A monolithic stela stands at its front like a sentinel guarding its entrance. The doorways of the temple were built in exact solar alignment with the rising sun, such that the early rays pass through them on the Spring and Fall equinoxes, marking the beginning of planting season and the beginning of harvest season.

Children of the corn

Since corn was a major part of the Maya diet, these events had great significance to the Maya. Yum Kax was the Maya God of corn and the Maya have actually been referred to as the children of the corn (PBS link).

Temple of the Dolls was named for the seven small dolls that were excavated there


View from Temple of the Dolls doorway looking down the sacbe that leads to the rest of the archaeological site

A large city

Dzibilchaltun ruins was a major city for the early Maya. Archaeologists estimate there were as many as 200,000 inhabitants and 8,400 buildings during its history. The city was still inhabited by the Maya when the Spanish arrived in the 1500's and artifacts have been unearthed here that date from 700-800 A.D.
A large plaza (below) is a short walk down a sacbe trail that leads away from the Temple of the Dolls. This is the largest open area of the site and features low pyramids, one long stairwayed platform and an unusual amphitheater shaped structure called the Open Chapel.

Large plaza and amphitheater


Cenote Xlakah

Cenote Xlakah is a beautiful freshwater pool just off the side of the main plaza. It was undoubtedly the freshwater source for the city and perhaps the reason the Maya originally chose this location to build. Water from cenote Xlakah would have been perfect for a all the city's needs and for irrigating nearby fields of corn.
Underwater Cenote Xlakah has sloping sides that descend to a depth of 44 meters (144 feet) where a large horizontal gallery opens up. According to the plaque near the water's edge, Xlakah means Old Town in Maya and the cenote was first explored between 1957-59. During the exploration thousands of pottery shards from shattered water urns were found along with artifacts of wood, stone and bone. The earthenware dates to the Late and Terminal Classic Periods 600-1000 A.D.

Cenote Xlakah is a popular local swimming hole and is open daily until 4pm



The museum at Dzibilchaltun is full of Spanish and Maya artifacts

The museum at Dzibilchaltun is full of interesting artifacts of Spanish and Maya origin. Carved stone tablets, stela, columns and lintels in excellent condition are displayed along side Maya hupiles, old textile machinery, maps, Spanish armor, swords and other weapons, and many other items. The museum is located by the entrance to the ruins site and is definitely worth seeing.

Getting there

Dzibilchaltun is only 9 miles from Merida and any taxi driver from the city would certainly know the way. There are also combi taxis on Calle 69 between 62 and 64 in San Juan Park that go directly to Dzibilchaltun. If you'd rather drive there yourself take the Merida/Progreso highway north seven miles and watch for the signs indicating a right turn, then in a couple more miles another turn right.





Ek Balam Mayan ruins near the colonial city of Valladolid in Yucatan, Mexico

Text courtesy of INAH, from signs on site at Ek Balam
Ek Balam is a Yucatec Maya name that may be translated as "the black jaguar" or "bright star jaguar." The enormous dimensions of the buildings on this site are what stand out, as well as the fact that two walls surround the central part - an uncommon attribute. The most important structures are found within the walled enclosure of less than one square kilometer and are distributed within two large, connected plazas referred to as the Central and South Plazas. Numerous constructions of different sizes are found around these. The walls have five entrances in different sections of its periphery and five sak be´oob (roads) which depart from the entrances in the direction of the four cardinal points. The South side of the wall is a special case. It has two entrances and two sak be´oob. The most important cultural period at Ek Balam was the Late Classic (700 - 1000 A.D.), however the early inhabitants remained living there until after 900A.D., as indicated by a few small constructions built after this date. Their characteristics are very different form the older buildings which make it clear that the society suffered some changes and dedicated less resources and work to construction.

Entrance "Sac bé" (white path) leading into the ruins - Bromiliads on a tree

Commander Juan Gutiérrez Picón relates in the "Account of Ek Balam - 1579," that Captain Francisco de Montejo granted him the capital of the district of Tiquibalon (Ek Balam containing five villages) for having been one of the conquerors of the region. According to this account, it is also stated that Tiquibalon was founded and populated by the great man called Ek Balam, who built most of the five structures at the site. Other captains under his orders constructed the rest.

Top photo, the ball court - bottom photo, structure 17 in Plaza Sur


Structure 17 (above) which we call the twins, is located to the West of the South Plaza and represents the best conserved architectural characteristics at Ek Balam. It is formed by a large foundation upon which two others were built to support two vaulted buildings of four rooms each. The structure measures 40 m. in length, 17 m. wide and is approximately 6 m. high.

Stela and alternate views of structures in and near Plaza Sur



Structure 10 (above right) measures 43 m. in length, 30 m. wide and is approximately 5 m. high. There are three more structures on its upper part. Two of these are low platforms with no construction on top of them and the other is a small vaulted temple with thick walls and an alter located in its interior. Due to its architectural characteristics, it is associated with the "miniature temples" of the East coast of Quintana Roo. Although the base corresponds to the Late Classic (700 - 1000 A.D.), the upper structures were not built until the Post Classic (1200 - 1542 A.D.)

A visitor waits in Plaza Central while her family climbs the largest pyramid, Structure 1

The decoration of Ek Balam's building facades was not done with carved figures in the stones as it was at Uxmal and Chichen Itza, but with stucco and limestone mortar modeled into distinct forms and then painted. During the excavation, two stucco masks were found which formed part of the decoration. The only decorative stone elements in this building are the small hoops in the corners of the rooms.

Preservation and re-creation of the modeled mortar decorative style of Ek Balam



Climbing the great pyramid and exploring structure 1

Getting there

The best time to visit Ek Balam is during a trip to the ruins of Chichen Itza, or the colonial city of Valladolid in the interior of Yucatan. Ek Balam archaeological zone is roughly a 2 hour drive from the Riviera Maya and is located 40± kilometers north of Valladolid on the road to Rio Lagartos. From Tulum it is easiest to take the Coba road west, stay right at the Coba ruins exit and continue on the road to Chemax and Valladolid. From Cancun it is easiest to take the Cuota road toward Merida and exit at Valladolid, then go north. There is a sign on the exit ramp.







Dzibanche & Kohunlich Mayan ruins in southern Quintana Roo, Mexico

Dzibanche

If you like Mayan ruins, southern Quintana Roo has some of the best. Roughly 4 hours south of Tulum, down at the base of the Yucatan peninsula, are some fantastic archaeological sites.

Kohunlich

The ruins of Kohunlich and Dzibanche are a couple real gems. Completely surrounded by the lush foliage of the tropical jungle these time worn ruins have a mystical quality that is enhanced by a lack of tourists, who seldom venture this far south. For that reason they are frequented by all manner of tropical wildlife and exotic birds. On any given day, it's not unusual to find yourself alone to wander the maze of paths that lead to the different plazas.

Small pyramid Dzibanche


These fifth century stucco masks below represent the rulers of Kohunlich.

From the top of a temple at Dzibanche

Also in the state of QR are the ruins of Chakanbakan and Oxtankah located on the shores of Chetumal Bay; and Chacchoben located off highway 307 north of Bacalar near Limones village on the road from Chetumal to Majahual.

Getting there

To reach Dzibanche take highway 307 (Cancun/ Tulum highway) approximately 3.5 hours south of Tulum to where 307 ends at the Chetumal/ Escarcega highway (past the town of Bacalar). Turn right. At kilometer 58 (sign for Dzibanche/ Morocoy) turn right again and drive 22 kilometers to the ruin site.
To reach Kohunlich continue past the turn for Dzibanche on the Chetumal/ Escarcega highway, and travel just 2 kilometers farther on, then turn left (at the sign for Kohunlich) and travel approximately 9.5 kilometers to the Kohunlich ruins.

In the neighboring state of Campeche

In the neighboring state of Campeche there are quite a few more archaeological sites including; Xpuhil, ChicannaBecan, Rio Bec, Hormiguero andCalakmul. Most of these are turns off the Chetumal/ Escarcega highway, farther west across the Quintana Roo / Campeche State border. Some are located off road and are very difficult to get to. The best way to visit the area is to spend the night down in the Bacalar / Chetumal area.





Mayan ruins of Mayapan Town of Mani - Road trip to Yucatan Mexico

Mayapan's history

Mayapan, meaning Banner of the Mayas, is considered the last great Maya capital, dating back to the beginning of the common Era and reaching its golden age in the Postclassic period. It is believed that this city once had a population of 12,000 inhabitants. Kukulkan II of Chichen Itza founded Mayapan between 1263 and 1283 AD. After his death an aggressive family Cocoom seized power and used Mayapan as a base to subjugate northern Yucatan. They succeeded through wars using Tabascan mercenaries and intermarrying with other powerful families. The Cocoom ruled for 250 years until 1441-1461 AD when an upsart Uxmal based family named Xiu rebelled and slaughtered the Cocoom.

Architectural similarity to Chichen Itza

Mayapan's ancient grandeur is still evident in its great buildings. There is a strong influence played by Chichen Itza, as seen in its main building, a smaller replica of the Castillo of Kukulcan. The main square was bordered by government, administrative and religious buildings, as well as the homes of the ruling class. These constructions were built over foundations of rows of columns, with temples and oratories, an altar at the back and benches along the sides. Also found are the round buildings known as "Observatories" and small sanctuaries representative of the ancient cities.

View from the top

Scenes of war

The painted murals which are still visible are the style used in the codices of the post classic period. The murals show scenes of war and events related to the death cult, evidence of the cultural links with races from the high plains of central Mexico.

The alliance

Although it is believed that Mayapan together with Uxmal and Chichen Itza formed a triple alliance, recent archaeological excavations indicate that these two last cities actually flourished well before Mayapan. What does appear true is that the city had a centralized form of government similar to that of Chichen Itza. Mayapan continued to prosper between 1250 and 1450. The mid 1400's marked the end of the city when a rebellion overthrew Mayapan and nearly destroyed the city. In the mid-XV century, Mayapan was destroyed, burned and abandoned. As more research and investigations are carried out in this area it is becoming increasingly clear that this city was even more important than had been thought previously.

The Mayapan archeological site is located 47km southeast of Merida.



After Mayapan we went to the nearby town of Mani, Yucatan


Burning of the Mayan Codices

The church and convent in Mani Yucatan, site of the infamous 1562 burning of the Mayan Codices and manuscripts by the Bishop Fray Diego de Landa. Like most Spanish colonial churches of Yucatan it was built by using the cut stones of Pre-Columbian Maya temples. The great bonfire Landa held turned to ashes almost all written records of the Maya. Only three codices are known to have survived. Landa proclaimed the books contained "nothing but the lies of the Devil" and he burned them to aid his mission, converting the Maya to Christianity.
Mani has been continuously occupied for approximately 4,000 years. In the postclassic Mesoamerican era it was home to the Tutal Xiu Maya dynasty, which moved their capital here from Uxmal in the 13th century. The Xiu were the dominant power in the western Yucatan after the fall of Mayapan in 1441. A yearly festival in honor of the deity Kukulcan was held here.

Alters within the church

The old Franciscan monastery was established in 1549 as the Parroquia y Exconvento de San Miguel Arcangel. Inside are some early colonial era fresco murals. Restoration work on the monastery building and its artwork began in 2001. Mani is about 100km to the south south-east of Mérida, Yucatan.





Muyil, Chunyaxché - Maya ruins south of Tulum, Mexico

Off the beaten track

Muyil and Chunyaxché, the modern names used to refer to this archaeological site, come from two large lagoons located on the area's outskirts, both within the confines of the Sian Ka'an Biosphere Reserve. Muyil is the most notable of the 22 pre-hispanic settlements of the Sian Ka'an and is situated 12 kilometers inland from the Caribbean shoreline, approximately 25 kilometers south of Tulum pueblo on Highway 307.
Architecturally, the site is divided into two sectors: Muyil A and Muyil B. The first of these is open to the public and extends across 38 hectares of jungle. It was a densely populated settlement during the pre-hispanic era with a great quantity of civic-religious and residential constructions, only some of which have been uncovered by the archaeologists. Because of the ruin's proximity to Muyil lagoon the city is thought to have been an impotatant stop in the pre-hispanic Maya's maritime trade route along the coast. There is evidence that the Maya utilized natural inlets and beaches up and down the coast, like the beaches at: Tulum ruins, Tankah, Akumal, Xaac, Paamul, Chakalal and the inlet of Xel-Ha and Xcaret (all of which have Maya ruins associated with them). The land-locked lagoons of Muyil and Chunyaxche are linked to the open sea by a narrow canal system dredged by the ancient Maya to provide access to the Caribbean by way of Laguna Campechen and the sea inlet at Boca Paila. The second sector of Muyil is located 2 kilometers northeast of the first and consists of a small nucleus of structures.
Information obtained up to now indicates that Mayan groups began to populate the site around 300 B.C. This is centuries before the height of such ancient Maya cities as Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Tulum. It is thought that the site was in use by the Maya until the first decades of the 16th century when Francisco de Montejo led the spanish conquest of Yucatan. According to colonial period documents, the first campsite of the Spanish was established by Montejo in 1527 near the then Mayan seaport of Xel-ha, and he called it Salamanca de Xala. Muyil ruins map

(left) Muyil Lagoon - El Castillo pyramid (#6 on the map)


Plaza de la Entrada


part of Estrctura 9K-23 - chamber atop Templo 8


Templo 6



Templo 8


the boardwalk to Muyil Lagoon


Mirador- look out over Laguna Muyil and the jungle



recent stone carvings near Muyil Lagoon






Palenque - Mayan ruins in Chiapas, Mexico

Palenque is one of the grandest Mayan ruins you will ever see

It easily ranks with Chichen Itza, Uxmal and Tikal in architecture and majesty. Even though it is over 400 miles (650 kilometers) away from the Riviera Maya, Palenque is doable, though definitely off the beaten path for beach lovers. Count on two full days driving for the round trip, and at least a full day there to see Palenque and nearby Misol Ha falls and Agua Azul (mimimum two night trip). We were blessed with good weather and made the non-stop drive from Akumal to Palenque in about 7½ hours, stopping only for gas and a couple of snacks. This was our "vacation" from the beach and the flat lands of Quintana Roo, to the exotic mountain state of Chiapas in southern Mexico; land of waterfalls, cascades, Mayan ruins, caves, canyons, lagoons and extraordinary wildlife.

At the foot of the mountains

Palenque is perched on the first rise of the Tumbalá mountains, looking out over a vast carpet of green that stretches north to the Gulf of Mexico (photo above). This is the alluvial flood plain of the Usumacinta river, a fertile sedimentary flatland that could have fed many in ancient times, as it does today. The Usumacinta would have also provided a means of transportation via canoe, facilitating trade with others.

Lush jungle

The high canopy jungle and landscaped plazas of the ruins are as powerful as the ruins themselves in emotional impact. There is a tranquility that envelops you as you walk from temple to temple, enjoying the beautiful setting and the towering trees that surround the site. With abundant shade at every turn, it is easy to hang out at Palenque most of the day, exploring the jungle trails that lead to other smaller plazas and temples, and to the travertine cascades that carry water down the mountain during the rainy season.
There has been much written about Palenque and its known history. Undoubtedly, many secrets remain. For now, just enjoy these images of our day at Palenque, and consider that this place deserves to be on your personal "must see" list, because Palenque is unforgetable.

Below, two temples of the Crosses group



The Temple of Inscriptions

The Temple of Inscriptions is perhaps the most significant structure on the site because it contains the tomb of Pakal the Great, the mightiest Mayan ruler of Palenque, who sanctioned the building of the temple to be accomplished after his passing. The stairway from the top of the pyramid down to the tomb was discovered by Alberto Ruz in 1952. He solved the mystery of the holes in the stairway capstone which had baffled archaeologists for 112 years, since Stevens and Catherwood "discovered" Palenque in 1840.

Pacal's tomb

The stairway descends vertically 80 feet to Pakal's burial chamber where a great ornately carved stone slab was used to seal his tomb. The humidity down there is intense, and the walls literally weep for Pakal. Special permission is required to visit this interior part of the Temple of Inscriptions






Tulum Ruins - Mayan ruins in Quintana Roo, Mexico


Tulum - the walled city

Tulum's greatest attraction is its location. It stands on a bluff facing the rising sun looking out on views of the Caribbean that are nothing less than spectacular. In Maya, Tulum means "Wall", and the city was christened thus because it is a walled city; one of the very few the ancients ever built. Research suggests it was formerly called Zama or "to dawn" in its day, which is appropriate given the location. It seems "Tulum" is the name given the site following a visit by the explorers Stephens and Catherwood in 1841, just before the beginning of the Caste War in 1847, long after the city was abandon and fell to ruins. They ordered trees cleared and Catherwood made illustrations of temples, later to be published in their famous book "Incidents of Travel in Yucatan". Juan José Gálvez is actually credited with Tulum's rediscovery in 1840.

Brief history of the site

The earliest date lifted from the site is A.D. 564 (the inscription on a stele) This places Tulum within the Classic period, though we know that its heyday was much later (1200 - 1521 A.D.) during the Late Post-classic period. Tulum was a major link in the Maya's extensive trade network. Both maritime and land routes converged here. Artifacts found in or near the site testify to contacts that ranged from Central Mexico to Central America and every place in between: copper rattles and rings from the Mexican highlands; flint and ceramics from all over the Yucatán jade and obsidian from Guatemala and more. The first Europeans to see Tulum were probably Juan de Grijalva and his men as they sailed reconnaissance along the Eastern coast of Yucatán in 1518. The Spaniards later returned to conquer the Peninsula unwittingly bringing Old World diseases which decimated the native population. And so Tulum, like so many cities before it, was abandoned to the elements.

Principal structures

When visitors arrive at Tulum's ancient pre-hispanic site they are able to see the buildings that in its time were the city's main center (ceremonial and political), monumentally encircled by the Mayan world's best known wall. Around this wall, in an area that at the present time can't be visited, there were a vast number of wooden and palm houses. Nowadays virtually no evidence of these houses exists.

City square

The square at the center of the city was probably once used for rituals or ceremonies and is flanked by the so called Castillo (The Castle) to the West. The Castillo, sometimes referred to as the lighthouse, is the tallest building at Tulum and the most famous. It stands on the above mentioned bluff, commanding a view of the ocean and coast for miles in both directions. The structure underwent several stages of building and the lintels of its upper rooms are carved with the plumed serpent motif. The rooms themselves are vaulted in classic Mayan style.

Temple of the Descending God

This is another interesting structure. On the façade is a figure sculpted head down, and the walls inside show traces of the original pigments applied by the Maya. The descending figure is thought to represent a deity and Tulum appears to have been the center of his cult.

The Temple of the Initial Series

The Temple of the Initial Series façade bears several stucco figures and the earliest date found at Tulum came from a stele in the inner sanctum. Also important are the Temple of the Frescos which is filled with murals, now mostly erased by time and the elements. The temple shows traces of several building styles. The House of the Columns is more complex than most structures at the site and worth examining. It's a palace-like structure with four rooms whose principal entrance faces South. Six columns support the roof of the main room and there's also a roofed sanctuary. With the exception of its Eastern flank, which is open to the sea, Tulum is completely encircled by a low wall. Watchtowers rise from the 2 corners of its Western flank and within each tower is an altar. A tiny cove nestles at the foot of the cliffs, with its apron of snow white sand. This caleta was where the trading canoes would slip ashore.

The Kukulcán group

Located just to the North of El Castillo, the Kukulcán Group, is formed by several minor structures. Being the most outstanding the Templo del Dios del Viento (Temple of the God of the Wind) is named after its round base. Traditionally related to Kukulcán is the God of the Wind Ehécatl from Central Mexico.

The beach

It is appropriate to emphasize the importance of the beach area, where it is certain that the Mayan ships, dedicated to trade around the peninsula, would have docked. At the present time it is the most visited area of the archaeological site.

General data

Being Quintana Roo's most known and advertised site, Tulum is a must visit. The access fee is $35~40 pesos (video cameras extra $30 pesos) and the visit timetable is 8am to 5 pm, everyday. It is important to mention that it is necessary to park the your car at the shopping center's parking lot (an extra $30 peso fee) when arriving through the main ruins entrance. This is not controled by the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH). The 1 km journey between the parking lot and the site's entrance can be made by walking or in a small train (it's not related with the INAH either), which access fee is +/-$10 pesos. The ancient Maya ruin of Tulum is a 2 hour drive from Cancun (130 km). There is easy access via Federal Highway 307 from Cancun to Tulum. It's unofficially the southern end to the Riviera Maya. In Cancun there are several travel agencies that organize guided visits and the local bus lines offer regular service between Cancun and the site. The site has a parking lot, refreshments and restrooms located at the shopping center. Tickets are sold at the entrance to the ruins. Rustic economically priced lodging is available in the village of Tulum and along the coast South of Tulum, en route to Sian Ka'an. These range in price and quality, and many are built exclusively with regional materials. There is a registered guides association offering services at the ruins site.

More photos of Tulum ruins






the public beach area






Uxmal - Mayan ruins/ archaeological site in Yucatan, Mexico

Not too long ago Loco Gringo visited the Mayan Ruins of Uxmal, located south of Merida in the state of Yucatan, Mexico. To us, Uxmal had a magic and spirit greater than Chichen Itza, (perhaps because it's farther away), however Uxmal does not get nearly the volume of tourists that Chichen Itza recieves. The terrain there is hilly and more interesting, where the terrain at Chichen Itza is flat. We stayed at Hacienda Uxmal, which is quite nice with a good restaurant and an excellent location very close to the ruins. Uxmal, like Chichen, has a light and sound show nightly. The show was interesting but we found just being at the ruins at night to be the bigger thrill.

History

The name Uxmal means 'thrice-built' in Mayan, referring to the construction of its highest structure, the Pyramid of the Magician. The Maya would often build a new temple over an existing one, and in this case five stages of construction have actually been found. Uxmal was one of the largest cities of the Yucatán peninsula, and at its height was home to about 25,000 Maya. Like the other Puuc sites, it flourished in the Late Classic period (around 600-900 AD). Indications are that its rulers also presided over the nearby settlements in Kabah, Labná and Sayil, and there are several sacbe's (white roads of the Maya) connecting the sites. The area is known as the Ruta Puuc, or Puuc route, from the nearby hills. With a population of about 25,000 Uxmal was one of the largest cities in the Yucatán.

Architecture

Puuc architecture has several predominant features, most notably constructions with a plain lower section and a richly decorated upper section. Carvings most commonly found include serpents, lattice work and masks of the god Chac. Chac was the god of rain, greatly revered by the Maya at Uxmal because of the lack of natural water supplies in the city. Although the Yucatán has few surface rivers, most Maya cities, including Chichén Itzá, used cenotes to access underground water, however there were no cenotes at Uxmal. Instead, it was necessary to collect water in chultunes or cisterns, built in the ground.

Stevens and Catherwood

In Incidents of Travel in the Yucatan John Stevens recounts stories of the human sacrifices performed at the highest temple of the House of the Magician. With the victim still alive, the priest would rip out the heart with a flint knife and throw the body (allegedly still moving) down the steep steps.

Pyramid of the Magician

The Pyramid of the Magician legend held that when a certain gong was sounded, the town of Uxmal would fall to a boy "not born of woman". One day, a dwarf boy, who had been raised from an egg by a witch, sounded the gong which struck fear into the ruler, who responded by ordering the boy to be executed. The ruler promised that the boy's life would be saved if he could perform three impossible tasks, one of which was to build a giant pyramid in a single night. The boy achieved all the tasks and became the new ruler.

Stairways and chambers

The Pyramid of the Magician stands 117 feet (38 m) high. Unusually built on an elliptical base, this pyramid is the result of five superimposed temples. Parts of the first temple can be seen when ascending the western staircase; the second and third are accessed by the eastern staircase, in an inner chamber at the second level. The fourth temple is clearly visible from the west side, a giant Chac mask marks the entrance and Chac's mouth is the door! Climb to the top of the east stairs to reach the fifth temple and view the whole site. Legend has it that this is the pyramid the dwarf boy raised in one night.
The Nunnery Quadrangle is a collection of four buildings around a quadrangle. It was named Casa de las Monjas (The Nunnery) by the Spanish because the 74 small rooms around the courtyard reminded them of nuns' quarters in a Spanish convent. Each of the four buildings has a unique ornate facade and each is built on a different level. The northern building is the oldest and the grandest. Here can be seen many typical Puuc embellishments, including Chac masks arranged one over another vertically, serpents and lattice work. The building to the east, and closest to the House of the Magician, is the best preserved, with a stack of Chac masks over the central doorway, and serpents above the doorways to the left and right.
The Palace of the Governor is regarded by many experts as the best example of Puuc architecture in existence. The Palace of the Governor stands on an artificial raised platform and is thought to be one of the last constructed building on the site (around 987 AD). The structure has a typical plain lower section and a richly carved upper. Amongst the depictions are serpents, lattices and masks and also a central seated god-like figure with a long plumed head-dress.
House of the Turtles is next to the Palace of the Governor and on the same raised platform. The House of the Turtles is named for the frieze of turtles carved around its cornice. It was believed that turtles suffered with man at times of drought and would also pray to Chac for rain. The Great Pyramid was originally nine levels high and has only been partially restored. It seems that another temple was to be superimposed on the existing structure and some demolition had taken place before the plans were halted, leaving the pyramid in bad condition. You can still see Puuc-style stonework on its fascade.






Xel-Ha's Mayan ruins Just across the highway from the Xel-Ha lagoon

Text courtesy of the Mexican: Instituto Nacional de Antropología e Historia (INAH)

Close to Xel-Ha lagoon

Xel-ha ruins are close to the lagoon and should not be missed by those who want to delve deeper into the history of this significant coastal location. The ancient Maya used Xel-ha lagoon as a maritime port of call. The Xel-ha ruins are across highway 307 and have several small stone temples and two cenotes. The entire site can seen in approximately an hour and there is seldom anyone there.

The hands

Groupo Lothrop was constructed during the Late Post-Classic (1200-1550 AD). It consists of bases and platforms with stairways used for residences and shrines. At the side of these bases you can see, almost at ground level, a hewn-stone building with an ellipsoidal floor plan. It is the only example of this type of construction so far found in Xel-ha and its function is unknown.
Pintura Mural 1 is a series of red panels which frame two scenes separated by a column which you can see the glyph "Ahau" which means chief or lord and is the name of a day. The composition includes two types of birds flying over a building remindful of cages. One group of these birds belongs to a species of yellow parrots having short tails and yellow beaks; the other shows red birds with yellow wings, long tails and black beaks. The composition of images in this mural speaks of an allegory of nature. It is colored in yellow and sienna red all on a white background. The mural was done during the Early Classic (300-600 AD)
Pintura Mural 2 is a symmetrical composition divided into four rectangles. The first makes up what looks like a checkerboard with red, gray and yellow squares. The main motif is a huge anthropomorphic figure shown from the chest up and painted sienna red, turquoise blue, white and yellow. The front view head dons a headdress which has a horizontal strip garnished with feathers and a spiral in the middle. The figure wears bracelets and necklaces. This composition shows stylistic influences from Teotihuacan and dates from the Early Classic (300-600 AD)
El Palacio encloses the plaza's southeast side and has several constructional stages. The first includes a rectangular base with rounded corners and sloped walls. Two rooms entered form the east and west were built atop it. The west room has an entrance with two wide pilasters which form three door openings. The ceilings in both rooms were vaulted, but today nothing remains. Later, a series of stone overlays were added to the building. There are two interconnecting rooms on the north side. The entrance is composite and the rooms were once reached by a wide stairway. Finally, all of the rooms were walled over with large stones, thus transforming the building into a large platform, perhaps to hold a residence built with perishable materials.

El Palacio


Foliage surrounds the ruins with palms and other native trees. Shown in these photos are the fabric of a palm and sap oozing from a tree, the begining of amber which is often used to make jewelry (below).


This group lies on a rise in the land and is the largest at the site (below). There is a wide variety of constructions, residential platforms, stone buildings and altars to be seen here. Study of recovered shards has shown that the site was dwelt in from 100 BC to 400 AD. It reached its peak during the Early and Middle Classic Periods (400-600/700 AD)
Here you view a feline figure (below) in a descending posture with its head looking straight out and paws spread. This reminds us of the diving deity known as Ah Mucen Kab, who was closely related to bees and honey. The figure is colored in red and yellow and outlined in black paint. It dates from the Late Post-Classic (1200-1450 AD)

The feline face

Origin of the name Xel-ha

Xel-ha in the Maya language stands for inlet and refers to its position on one of the largest coves on the East coast of the Yucatan Peninsula. The first dwellings in Xel-ha date back to 100 BC through 400 AD and were not monumental, but consisted mostly of houses made of thatch and wood. Later, between 400-700 AD a more complex and organized society consolidated creating masonry buildings in the style of the Peten and Belize regions. These buildings formed closed plazas and also several elite residential structures. At the time, Xel-ha was a populous pre-Hispanic village on Quintana Roo's eastern shores.

History and trade by canoe

Between 700 and 1200 AD Xel-ha had connections with other inner cities of central Yucatan. These ties are clearly seen in pottery and in a different style of architecture which covered the old buildings. From these periods until the arrival of the Spaniards in 1527, Xel-ha became part of the province Ecab.
The "Jaguar Group", the "A" and "B" groups and the "Pier" date to this period. The main architectural traits known as the "East Coast Style" are small temples with vaulted or flat roofs, inset lintels and slightly slanted walls on the outside. Also a profuse use of stucco was used to cover the imperfections of poor masonry. Some altars were built near the water line or inside caves and cenotes.
Evidence gathered from the archaeological work done at the site concludes that Xel-ha was inhabited in a continuous way from the pre-Classic Period until the arrival of the Spaniards. The conquerors brought along diseases unknown to indigenous people that decimated the population in a hasty manner.

The cenotes

There are 2 cenote freshwater pools within the Xel-ha archaeological site. The larger of the two is toward the western edge of the ruins and has interesting ruin structures right next to it. This area is easily accessible via paths through the site. More on Xel-ha lagoon





Yaxchilan - Mayan ruins on the Usumacinta river in Chiapas, Mexico

Down the Usumacinta river

A journey down the Usumacinta river to Yaxchilan in Chiapas, Mexico is how we begin this adventure. This month's spotlight is a collection of pages from our trip to the state of Chiapas in southern Mexico. Some of you may never visit Chiapas. It certainly is not on an itinerary for the Riviera Maya since it's a full day drive away, but Chiapas is a diverse state with pasture lands, mountain jungles, rivers, waterfalls, canyons, colonial cities, and the Maya who have lived here for centuries.

The Usumacinta Province

Yaxchilan and other Mayan sites in the area like Bonampak are refered to as the "Usumacinta Province". They share certain characteristics, such as roof combs at the center of the temples and ornamentation modeled almost entirely in stucco over the frieze on the second section of the buildings. They all reflect mastery of the architectural technique of covering wide spaces with roofs supported by walls.

A walk through time



About Yaxchilan

The particular characteristics of Yaxchilan are stela, lintels, alters, stairs, bas-relief carvings in stucco, and mural painting, all of which are integrated into the architecture resulting in a unified whole. Based on the architecture, ceramic materials, and hieroglyphic inscriptions, archaeologists have determined that the occupation of Yaxchilan began before the year 250 AD and ended around 900 AD.
There are more than 120 structures in the central area, distributed in three great complexes: the Great Plaza, located in the lower part, parallel to the river; the Grand Acropolis; and the Small Acropolis, all of which are skillfully adapted to the contours of the low limestone hills in the south by means of terraces and platforms. Stairways, ramps, and distribution terraces connect the three complexes. Yaxchilan map

Hiring a guide is a great way to tour Yaxchilan










0 comentarios: