Yaxha Monochromes

Flores. Yaxha and La Blanca, Peten, Guatemala, 26-29 August 2016

 

Links go to posts with the colour versions of the images (where there is more information). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Flores.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Collaraed aracan, near Yaxha.

 

Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Yaxha.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Yaxha IR.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Yaxha.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Topoxté IR.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Yaxha.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Near Yaxha.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Road to Nakum.

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La Blanca.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Black and White, Flores, Guatemala, La Blanca, Landscape, Maya, Monochrome, Nature, Photography, Street photography, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha .

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Mexico City Monos

Mexico City, 18-22 August 2016

 

Links go to posts with the colour versions of the images (where there may also be more information). If an image does not have a link, the preceding one applies.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Teotihuacan, from Museo Nacionale de Antropologia.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Olmec.

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Huaxtec.

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Maya.

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Maya.

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Maya.

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Central Mexico City.

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Gran Hotel Cuidad de Mexico.

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Frida Kahlo’s House.

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Frida Kahlo’s House.

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Frida’s Studio.

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Frida’s bedroom.

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Frida’s corsets.

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Palacio Nacional.

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On the streets of Mexico City.

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On the streets of Mexico City.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

On the streets of Mexico City.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

On the streets of Mexico City.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Aztecs, Black and White, Frida Kahlo, Landscape, Maya, Mexico, Mexico City, Monochrome, Museo Nacionale de Antropologia, Photography, Street photography, Tenochtitlan, Travel

Tenochtitlan today.

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Chac mool.

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Tlaltecuhtli, Museo del Templo Mayor.

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Ball court marker?

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Jade Mask.

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Museo Nacional de Arte.

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Museo Nacional de Arte.

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Tikal

Tikal, Peten, Guatemala, 27-28 August 2016

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This is a mixed infrared and normal post.  The images have labels and some further information, mainly from information boards, while a stream of information about Tikal follows underneath.  This latter stream may relate to quite different periods than the images and comments on the images.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Probably Templo 1 from the rear.

Tikal is one of the main Mayan cities from the Classic Era.  It is about 64 kilometres north of Flores.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

A “palace”, generally presumed to be a royal living and administration area, but without much firm evidence.

About 100 kilometres NNW of Tikal is El Mirador, an even more ancient site with what according to some calculations is the largest pyramid in the world.  Normally you have to walk in through the jungle, a day each way though I suspect little of the city has been reclaimed from the jungle.  I was intending to fly in by helicopter but it did not eventuate.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

A ball court in front of the palace.

There are traces of agriculture at Tikal from 1000 BC.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Templo 2.

“Also known as Temple of Masks, Was built around the year 700 AD, by the ruler Jasaw Chan K’awiil l, as a mortuary monument for his wife, Kalajuun Une ‘Mo’.”

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Tikal was built on a series of limestone ridges, with swampland between and with interconnecting causeways.  The causeways made pedestrian ways during time of heavy rainfall and doubled as dams.  The buildings used limestone quarried on site and the holes this created were lined and used as ten great reservoirs for times of drought.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

The Great Plaza (into the sun).  Templo 1 and the North Acropolis at the left.

A burial was found under Templo 1.  It may be that there are others under all the pyramids.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Templo 2.

The “founder” of the dynasty at Tikal was Yax Moch Yox (“First Scaffold Shark”), sometime in the first century AD, though there were other rulers before him.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Templo 2.

The earliest date found on a stela at Tikal is 292 AD.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

A wall area containing traces of a relief.

The first well-documented king is Great Jaguar Paw, who reigned from 317 to 378 AD.  Large scale building occurred during his reign.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Templo 1 on the left, Templo 2 on the right and North Acropolis in the distance, taken from the Central Acropolis.  This is the main ceremonial area but there would have been few trees 1600 years ago.

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In 378 AD, Great Jaguar Paw was overthrown and killed by Smoking Frog who was a foreigner, coming from Teotihuacan, the giant city-state near Mexico City today.  The invaders from Teotihuacan brought new military technology and organisation and also conquered some of the neighbouring cities.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Templo 1.

“Temple 1 (also known as the Temple of Ah Cacao or Temple of the Great Jaguar) is a funerary pyramid dedicated to Jasaw Chan K’awil, who was entombed in the structure in AD 734, the pyramid was completed around 740–750. The temple rises 47 metres (154 ft) high. The massive roofcomb that topped the temple was originally decorated with a giant sculpture of the enthroned king, although little of this decoration survives.”

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Curl Nose became ruler to Tikal in 379 AD and reigned for 47 years, yet he was also referred to as the vassal of Smoking Frog while he was still alive.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

The top of Templo IV, the highest at 74 metres or 150 feet, and probably a yellow-naped parrot.

Curl Nose’s son Stormy Sky was Lord of Tikal from 411 to 456 AD.  He was half Mayan.  The invaders were becoming Mayans but Tikal had adopted elements of the Teotihuacan culture.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Templo 3.  They didn’t have windows of course, that’s just to keep people out of the chamber.

“Also known as Temple of the Jaguar Priest, because of the threshold figure inside the temple, this temple relates to the last phase of construction at Tikal. Its construction is estimated circa 810 and by reference that exists in a fragment of Stela is associated with the ruling Nuun bak Chaak II, who is considered the thirty-first ruler of, the dynastic sequence and is represented on the Lintel 2 of this temple.”

Tikal’s influence expanded greatly in Stormy Sky’s reign.  It directly controlled an area about 25 kilometres around and had a sphere of influence reaching 100 kilometres or more.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

People ascending the Central Acropolis.  Templo IV above the jungle at the horizon.

Stormy Sky was buried in the North Acropolis, in this image at middle left in the distance and obscured by foliage.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Similar view, showing a bit more of the Central Acropolis.

A female became ruler of Tikal in 511 at the age of six, co ruler with Curl Head and then Bird Claw.  She is known as “The Lady of Tikal” because the stela that mentions her is incomplete and does not show her name.

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Templo 3.

The next ruler, Double Bird, may have been her son.  He ruled from 537 to 562 and came to an unfortunate end, along with much of Tikal.  This was also a period of the decline of Teotihuacan, Tikal’s faraway ally.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

A giant mask on a wall.

Calakmul is another Mayan city, 30 kilometres north of the Mexican border, so vaguely 130 kilometres north of Tikal.  It was bigger than Tikal and had many more stelae but we know little about it because the stelae have weathered away due to the inferior quality of the limestone used there.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

A stela depicting a ruler.  You may need to click on it to make it out at a larger size.

Calakmul had been an ally of Tikal but early in the reign of Double Bird, Tikal launched an “Axe War” against Calakmul and captured and sacrificed a prominent noble, probably after ball court rituals.  Reigning lords were expected to capture and sacrifice the head of another state early in their reign to prove their power but this was to prove a particularly unfortunate choice.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Maybe a ball court marker.  Glyphs around the outside but hard to make out detail.

In 562, Calakmul overran and devastated Tikal and no doubt took Double Bird away for ritual sacrifice.  Tikal was then eclipsed for over a century while Calkmul prospered.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

The Bat Palace.

“A palatial complex that has several rooms with benches in its interior, distributed in two galleries on the first floor and on gallery on the second floor.  On the rear wall of the rooms are windows that provide views to the West.”

Slowly, Tikal regenerated itself and was becoming more prosperous under Shield Skull from 650 to 679, although he had to flee from a Calakmul raid to Palenque in 657 and after returning to Tikal, was eventually taken and sacrificed by them in 679.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Gran Pirámide, Plaza of the Lost World, one of the oldest remaining parts of Tikal.

“Known as the main structure of the Lost World.  It stands 32 metres (105 ft) high.  This four-sided structure has staircases on all sides.  During the Preclassic period, around 300BC, this pyramid and its squared platform formed an astronomical observation unit.”

Shield Skull’s son Hasaw Chan Ka’wil brought about the re-emergence of Tikal as a great power.  He came to the throne in 682, raised many stelae and altars, and embarked on a program of reconstruction in the Great Plaza and the North Acropolis.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Temple of the skulls, Plaza of the Lost Worlds.

“The Temple of the Skulls (Templo de las Calaveras in Spanish) is the third largest temple in the Mundo Perdido (Lost World) complex. A new version of this temple was superimposed upon a preceding version during the 7th century AD. This new version faced away from the Mundo Perdido and possessed a single room with five doorways that faced onto the adjacent Plaza of the Seven Temples to the east. Around AD 700, this version was sealed and a new version was built on top, at which time it became one of the highest structures in the Mundo Perdido. This version of the structure had a four-level platform with an access stairway interrupted by a vaulted niche, as was the architectural style prevalent at Tikal during this time. The base of the niche was adorned with three sculpted skulls, one facing forwards and the two flanking skulls in profile.”

Hasaw Chan Ka’wil was convinced that he was destined for greatness because his reign commenced 256 years after that of Stormy Sky, the most powerful year of Tikal.  This was significant in the Mayan long count of time, and represented the same point in another cycle.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Plaza of the Seven Temples (and following images).

Empowered by this vision of greatness, he went to war against Calakmul and in 694, he defeated them and captured and sacrificed their Lord, Jaguar Paw.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife .

He ruled from 682 to 734 and won further successes against Calakmul, which was eclipsed politically.  Templo 1 is also his tomb.  His son Yikin Chan Kawil constructed the temple on top of his tomb.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife .

Yikin Chan Kawil also constructed the massive Templo 4.  His successors put up Templos 3 and 6 and much of what we see today is from the end of the era of Tikal.  This is partly due to the practice of building new structures on top of old ones.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife .

Further conflicts between Tikal and Calakmul are recorded until the mid 740s, then both states slowly faded away.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife .

Most of the area of the Lowland Maya, mainly in Guatemala and Belize, was abandoned by around 900.  The most plausible theory is overpopulation coupled with severe years of prolonged drought.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Jungle.

 

A remnant population may have persisted at Tikal up to around 1000, but it was then abandoned to the jungle for the next 1,000 years.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Plaza of the Seven Temples.

“This is an important part of socio-political activity of the Tikal inhabitants of the Late Classic. At the northern end of the complex there are three ballgame courts, which in turn frame the north end of a large rectangular plaza. On the east side, there are seven temples aligned from north to south, the central temple presenting larger dimensions and the roof comb still preserved.”

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Around 3,000 separate structures have been recorded in the 16 square kilometres that form the heart of the city.  About 10,000 people lived there.  There was also a much wider area that was part of the city which overall supported around 50,000 to 60,000 inhabitants.  At the height of Tikal’s power, around 500,000 people lived in its area of influence.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Plaza of the Seven Temples.

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While superficially, the swamps around the city might seem unsuitable for agriculture, they had a complex system of canals and sophisticated practices to make this possible.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Tikal, Travel, Wildlife

Templo 5.

“One of Tikal’s highest temples, reaching a height of 57 meters, dated to the early part of the Late Classic period. The structure consists of a pyramidal base with seven stepped bodies, with rounded corners. On the façade it has a wide staircase with balustrade. During the investigations it was possible to establish that it has no substructure, which means it was built from the beginning to the top of the crest in a single chronological moment around 650 AD making it one of the earliest in Tikal.”

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There is a great expanse of jungle in the former Mayan lands of Northern Guatemala, Southern Mexico and Western Belize.  There are many unexcavated Mayan cities and no doubt many as yet undiscovered.  These are potentially threatened by plunder of ancient sites and exploitation of the rainforest region.  They are all under some kind of heritage protection but governance is weak and funding scarce.

The Mayan people of course survive and particularly retain independent communities in Guatemala.  2012 saw the beginning of a great long count cycle and the beginning of a new one.  In tradition Mayan terms we would be entering a period of renewal for the Mayan people.

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La Blanca

La Blanca, Peten, Guatemala, 27-28 August 2016

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This is a mixed infrared and normal post.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Rainbow-billed Toucan, Topoxte, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

This is our ultra-luxurious transport for a trip into the Guatemalan jungle, with my photographic pack on the tray on the right.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Rainbow-billed Toucan, Topoxte, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

We were heading for Nakum, another ancient Mayan city, and a rival to Yaxha.  (At least I’m pretty sure it was Nakum, there is some possibility it may have been Naranjo).

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But we got to a place where there was no point going further.  It was not so much that the truck couldn’t get past this point, but if it was this bad here, it was going to be impossible later on.

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Archaeology, Architecture, Guatemala, History, Infrared, Landscape, Maya, Nature, Photography, Rainbow-billed Toucan, Topoxte, Travel, Wildlife, Yaxha

Here is an interesting chart from the Park Office at Yaxha that I visited later in the day.  It’s very inaccurate, though.  If you include the Minoan Civilisation with Ancient Greece, that goes back to say 2600 BBC.  El Mirador goes back to at least 1750 BC.  Chichen Itza survived to about 1250 AD.  There seems to be no reason to terminate the Byzantine Empire at 950 AD instead of 1453.  And the people of Topoxté moved to Zacpeten, where they lasted until 1697.  It does show the extraordinary length of the Mayan civilisation though. The Incas and Aztecs are ephemeral in comparison.  And it roughly equates to the whole Graeco-Romano civilised period from Crete to the fall of Byzantium.

Here also is some text “translated” from that notice board on the three periods of Mayan Civilisation….

HISTORICAL PERIODS OF MAYAN CIVILIZATION
PRECLASSIC PERIOD (1800 BC to 250 AD)
Ceremonial centers were created, ruled mainly by religious beliefs, and writing, plastic art, the cultivation of sciences and the development of monumental architecture began to be developed, such as the Acropolis with pyramids decorated with masks and friezes on their facades, which express the cult to the ancestors and the complexes of astronomical commemoration.
CLASSIC PERIOD (250-900 AD)
The Classic period marked the time of the flowering in all the orders of the most important cities of the central Petén. At this time the development in the agriculture implemented the irrigation systems and communal crops, increasing their relations with other Mesoamerican peoples. The technology increased and the political organization was tightly consolidated to the religion.
POST-CLASSICAL PERIOD (900-1524 AD)
At this time there is a cessation of political and cultural activities in the large cities of the central area, many of which are abandoned, a fact that has led to multiple interpretations of the events that might have led to this cultural decline commonly known as “collapse.”

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Since our morning expedition was abandoned, we instead went to La Blanca.

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Sometimes the light shifted and it looked quite different.

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Though small compared to Yaxha, still impressive in its own way.

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This and following images are at the Acropolis Complex, the Royal Palace.

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La Blanca was adjacent to fertile land that flooded in the rainy season.  There was also a huge reservoir for periods of drought and chultuns, or underground storage chambers for additional insurance.

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It was mainly an administrative centre and a place of trade, with not so much emphasis on religion.

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It dates from the Early Classic to the Early Postclassic, so around 250 to 1200 AD.  La Blanca is likely to have been a client state of either Yaxha or Naranjo.

 

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Graffiti on the wall of the “Oriental Palace”.  (You may need to look closely or click on the image for a larger view).  A deer at the right, at frog at bottom left.  possibly a human at top left.

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Another “palace” view..

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A butterfly on the ground at La Blanca.

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Passing the wetlands on the way back….

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Back at the ecolodge, this is a Rainbow-billed toucan.

 

Note to Lib Ferreira:  I said the Tikal post was the last one.  Actually it’s the next one, comoing out in the next day or so.

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Yaxha and Topoxté (IR)

Yaxha and Topoxté, Peten, Guatemala, 27-28 August 2016

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Infrareds from Yaxha and Topoxté.  For more detail see the previous two posts in ordinary colour.  In many cases there is an equivalent image there.

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Yaxha,

This image is intended to provide a hint of realism, albeit in infrared.  The pyramids would have been painted and I have a book which shows the Yaxha pyramids as red.  Perhaps that’s accurate because the main noticeboard at the site also shows them as red.  There would have been no trees around though and no grass growing on the steps.  The whole surrounding area would also have been paved and, if the illustrations I have seen are accurate, white.

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There are probably several pyramids here, built one on top of each other, so maybe the colours changed each time.

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In any case, the colours of the past are perhaps conjectural.

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Topoxté.

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Topoxté

Topoxté and Yaxha, Peten, Guatemala, 28 August 2016

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Next morning we visited the island of Topoxté in Laguna Yaxha.

There are six islands on Laguna Yaxha, settlement was mainly on three of them (which comprised a Mayan city) and Topoxté is the largest.

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Cormorant on a drowned tree, from the island.

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The island is now mainly jungle but there are lots of mysterious mounds..  This is because there were around one hundred structures.

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Topoxté was occupied from the Middle Preclassic (1000 to 400 BC) to 900 AD, and again from 1100 to 1450 AD.

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At times it was part of Yaxha and at others, independent.  In the later period they were associated with the city of Mayapan in Yucatan and after 1450 moved 14 kilometres west to Zacpeten, on a peninsula on Lake Salpeten, until the Spanish arrived in 1697.

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This is “Building C”, the main building in the Main Plaza.  Also for the two previous images.

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This break in the jungle is probably a paved street leading up to the Main Plaza.

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Once a dramatic building, you can see the bricks poking out of the soil.

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Still on the island, a dramatic flower with a bug.

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After returning from the island, we visited Yaxha again.  There are eighty-two species of bat in Guatemala and I’m not going to pretend I can identify this one.

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Views from the top of another pyramid.

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That’s Topoxté in the middle, with a small boat passing by, much like the one we were on (or maybe even the same one).

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Howler monkeys.

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Still howler monkeys but it’s three hours later and we are probably back at Ecolodge El Sombrero.

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In the late afternoon we went for a drive to some nearby wetlands.

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Yaxha

Yaxha, Peten, Guatemala, 27 August 2016

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Collared aracan.

For most of our stay in Guatemala, we were staying at Ecolodge El Sombrero, in the jungle, beside a lake and very close to the Mayan ruins of Yaxha.  On our first morning we saw this collared aracan, one of the three toucans of Guatemala.

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The archaeological site of Yaxha overlaid on the jungle of today.

This is perhaps a bit misleading because it only shows the centre of the city, which would have been surrounded by many fields and houses, mainly yet to be excavated.

I had the idea before visiting that there were just a few cities nestled in the jungle whereas there were in fact many dozens and a dense population where not many now live.

Yaxha is one of the largest Mayan sites in Guatemala and the site contains over 500 structures, with nine plazas, 40 stelae, several pyramid temples and ball courts.  It has a long history of occupation from 1000BC to 900AD.  It reached its peak during during the Early Classic period of AD 250–600 and there is some indications of influence from Teotihuacan during this period.  Yaxha is the original Mayan name, meaning “green waters”.

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One of the many pyramids, though the stairs on this one have eroded towards the top.  As with all these images, click for a larger view.

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Stela, though with the top of the engraved figure missing.

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Ruined buildings at the top though the whole slope would have been artificial and terraced.

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A platform or altar nearby.

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We have now climbed up to the ruined buildings from two images ago.  Also next image.

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They are rooms or small houses.  I think this may be “a palace-type structure in the East Acropolis”, probably “structure 218”.  Either that or a place for priests and sacred objects.

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In some places there were information boards in Spanish.  I have scanned and translated these electronically.  However, because I could not read them at the time, my images may not entirely illustrate them.  Also, in some places, the translation may be imprecise.

“The last construction stage of the Acropolis was in the Late Classic period (600 700 AD).  The West Palace (structure 218) served as access to the square and the Temple of the Red Hands; both buildings covered older constructions. The priests stayed in the North and South palaces, probably with the sacred objects used in the rites.

The Temple of the Red Hands exceeds 30 meters in height; at the top it had a crest decorated with a mask. In the precinct you will find several Mayan graffiti and red hand prints. Under the staircase a tomb was discovered from the Late Classic period.

Beneath the Acropolis East there are several ancient buildings that date back to 200 AD. After the abandonment of Yaxhå, some Postclassic inhabitants of Topoxté visited the Temple of the Red Hands to place offerings in a gesture of historical memory.”

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You can see the person standing on the top of the pyramid but only the bottom steps are still intact and climbing up looks very precarious, so how did they get there?  Well, there is a wooden set of stairs at the back of the pyramid.

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We climbed those stairs and were able to see views from the top, here looking out towards Laguna Yaxha.

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Residential area of the East road.

“The East Causeway is located between the Twin Pyramids Complex and the Acropolis of the Toucans (Acropolis Northeast). In an intermediate sector that borders on roads 2, 3 and 4 stands out a residential complex organized in several courtyards that correspond to the tenth century AD.

The dwellings were built with low-recess walls white-washed and roofed with guano and corozo palms; They housed several families grouped together.

Cooking and the production of pottery was shared communally.”

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This stela has a particularly clear representation, probably of a ruler (I neglected to spend the decades of preparation to be able to read the Mayan glyphs).

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Stela at the Plaza of the Birds (which is unexcavated, behind)

The imagery on the stela shows wonderful complexity.  I wonder whether it was originally brightly and intricately coloured.

“The whole area is bounded by the Acropolies of the North and Northeast. The Plaza of the Birds is one of the largest urban spaces built in Yaxhå during the Late Classic period. There is a Ball Court in the northern sector, while in the East is a long basement that held three sanctuaries related to the three levels of the creation.

Among the three monuments erected on the square, Stela 31 stands out due to its complicated designs that include several birds and nature themes evident in the main character’s headdress.”

 

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Pyramid under repair.

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This one is quite near the one in the previous image.  Note the people carefully picking their way up and down (It is steeper than it appears here).

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This is the same pyramid but this image gives you a better idea of the difficulty of climbing the pyramids.  Not only were they very steep with no hand rails but the steps were very large, being approximately 30cm or 12 inches, twice as high as standard steps today.

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Calzada Blom

We are on an ancient roadway that also collected runoff water in ponds.

“In addition to functioning as a communication channel between the Greater Astronomical Complex (Group F) and the Plaza de las Sombras (Maier Group), the roadway also served to capture and distribute the rainwater. The surface was covered by a stucco floor, which allowed the water to slide into channels that led it to be stored in watered ponds located in the east sector.”

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Plaza of the Shadows

“It is one of the widest squares in Yaxha, designed for large crowds.  The ceremonial processions ended here, after stops at the North Acropolis and the Causeway of the Aguadas. At the west of the square is the Temple of Boards whose final version was built between 750 and 800 AD. On the east side of the Plaza de Las Sombras is a long terraced terrace on which two temples rest, beneath which there were constructions that belong to the time of the first inhabitants of Yaxha. Three stelae and a large altar were erected at the foot of the main temple’s staircase. In the temple that was oriented towards the south there were masks on the sides of the stairway; between 750 and 800 AD they added aggregate enclosures to the sides of the main façade.”

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Plaza of the Setting Sun.

“It is located on the western edge of the city of Yaxhå. On the east side, the Great Pyramid of the Astronomical Complex stands out, which had masks maybe related to the subject of the Setting Sun. In the western sector there is another pyramidal building that could also have façade masks. The pyramids of the Plaza of the Setting Sun are part of an East-West axis that extends along the central sector of Yaxhå, symbolizing the daily course of the sun in that direction.”

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Major Astronomical Complex

“It is one of the oldest architectural ensembles of Yuxhåi during the Preclassic period, which functioned as the main square of the city, where ceremonies related to the sun worship took place, in which its daily and annual displacement was commemorated.

In the west sector of the square stands a truncated pyramid with staircases on the four facades that demarcated masks that represented celestial deities. The eastern side of Plaza 10 is a longitudinal basement that originally supported three sanctuaries, of which the central one stands out, sharing a 90-degree axis with the center of the Great Pyramid.

The sanctuaries that occupied the north and south ends are located at angles close to 23 degrees from the center of the Great Pyramid, and are associated with the location of the sun during the summer and winter solstices, Although these sets are called observatories, Its main function was to commemorate the transit of the sun, because the buildings are not oriented astronomically north.”

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Palace Ball Court

“It is located in front of the northern façade of the Royal Palace (Acrópolis South). The ruler and members of the court witnessed the performance of the game from above. The court is delimited by two parallel platforms oriented from north to south; the north direction corresponded to the Sky that was associated with light, while the south was corrected with the underworld linked to darkness.

The reduced space of the yard indicates that the game could have been played by no more than three individuals per team. The marker used to be placed on top of the walls, or on the ground in the central sector of the courtyard.

The game had a very important ritual and political connotation, since one of the members of the team was sacrificed. The rubber ball that represented the sun was propelled with the knees and hips, for this the players were protected with knee pads and wide girdles.

The ruler participated as a player when it was necessary to solve policy differences between antagonistic cities.”

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Walkway of the Quarries
(Lincoln Road)

“In addition to functioning as a direct communication route between the Lesser Astronomical Complex (Plaza C) and the Royal Palace (Acrópolis Sur), the causeway also served to displace large blocks of limestone that were used for the construction of buildings.

The surface of the roadway was covered by a thick stucco floor, which allowed heavy materials such as stelae and altars to be moved with rollers from the production quarry to the plaza where they were exhibited.

To obtain stone, the Mayans made deep cuts in the quarries; At the end of the construction work, some of the large depressions were conditioned to be used as gutters or ponds.”

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We have now walked a circuit and this is the pyramid we climber earlier, but very late in the afternoon, just before heavy rain.

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So we take shelter as the rain pelts down.

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You can see how uneven the steps and top of this structure are.  The stones must have been laid straight so this is probably evidence of earthquakes over the millenia.

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Sunset is approaching.

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And back at Ecolodge El Sombrero, the sunset glows across the lake.

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