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Por: Ing.

Luis Dumois His Bio

The Maya Civilization - La Civilización Maya Cities of the Maya
(This is an image intensive page - It's orth the ait!) (Each image is linked to an enlargement) The material splendor of the Maya culture is appreciated, more than in any other field, in the architecture and ornamentation of their cities. These citystates were the center of power for the king-priests who administered the o edience, the tri ute and the manpower of the people who elie!ed in them. Many Maya cities and ceremonial centres ha!e een disco!ered, some of which appear in our map of the Mayan country, from the now Me"ican states of #ampeche and $ucat%n down to Honduras in #entral &merica. 'ot all the cities were de!eloped at the same time. &t the eginnings of the Maya culture, the highlands raised the first edifices. (n the apogee of the #lassical )eriod, etween *+, and -,, &..., the lowlands witnessed the flourishing of great cities such as Tikal, located in the heart of the /uatemalan )et0n. &fter that, the creati!e impulse mo!ed to the plains and low plateaus of the south end of the $ucat%n peninsula, where the )uuc cities saw their moment of glory. Each Maya city e"hi its a uni1ue style, although regions and epochs lent them certain common features. 2hen we !isit the ruins of the cities that seem to suddenly appear from the dense 3ungle, we cannot ut admire the engineering workmanship which guaranteed the supply of pro!isions and water to the inha itants4 the fine stucco decorations4 the stone estelas, dum witnesses to the most ad!anced calendar system of those days4 the ample and comple" network of roads that criss-crossed all the land, keeping communications, commerce and interchange open to all Maya centres.

two more !ast platforms perform the same function. To the north of the /reat )la6a. they raised the tallest uildings in ancient &merica. 5ne of the few prehispanic names we keep is that of the #ity of the 2i6ards of the 2ater. with almost !ertical walls. 7een from a distance. (t seems that the constructors wanted to come closer to Hea!en and to their gods in this way. and in doing it. 5!er the ack walls you may appreciate the typical crests of Tikal. ha!e a molded ase and composite corners. one of these platforms defines the area. Many of the palaces contain one or two rows of rooms on 3ust one floor. #hich0n (t6%. meters in height. The emphasis put in height and !erticality gi!es an imposing touch to the city. Ten pyramidal asements are uilt o!er it. TI"#L The $reat Plaza The huge ceremonial esplanade in Tikal contains three ig platforms. something which gi!es the uilding an aura of e!en greater height. to gi!e the comple" a uni1ue. The stairs go up on the front and they do not show any lateral support. ut in Tikal there also two. to accentuate the impression of height. ma3estic atmosphere. 5ne of the temples in Tikal reaches 8. three and e!en fi!e storey uildings. distri uted in a symetric manner to the west and east of its central a"is. To the center of the pla6a. tra!elers and archaeologists. and o!er them rest the pyramidal uildings so common in the ancient Maya cities.The names of the old cities are forgotten. Tall %uil&ings The temples that emerge so gracefully from the 3ungle. . The ones we use today were made up y e"plorers and missionaries. the uildings seem to surface from the ottom of the green sea of the tropical forest. and to the south of it.

so their profile reminds us of the straw huts which. To admire in )alen1ue. and to a height that !aries to compensate for irregularities in the terrain... !ery characteristic of this city. ut the merciless passing of time has erased the commemorati!e messages that might ha!e een written o!er them. ut it did not reach its 6enith until the 8th and the 9th century. it is the most western city of the Maya. ser!e many Maya families well.. glyphs and :long count: dates. ha!e een found. a fourth of them car!ed with as reliefs representing personalities. The ceilings of the uildings in )alen1ue follow the outline of the false !ault.The 'tone (stelas Tikal is a city of many estelas. more than 9. <. a o!e almost e!erything else. P#L()*+( )alen1ue is located to the north of the 7ierra de #hiapas. o!er a plateau that e"tends itself o!er the plain. figures. The first !estiges in )alen1ue show that the area was occupied as far ack as the . To this day. . when the Maya #lassical )eriod was at its height. 2ith the e"ception of #omalcalco. then and today. y 8+ meters. The Palace The )alace is uilt o!er a gigantic trape6oidal platform. (t is possi le that the non-car!ed estelas were painted.th century &. are the !ery fine decorations in stucco. or Mayan !ault. #rests are widely used as ornaments to uildings..

molded in stucco. &nother good e"ample of this type of ornamental sculpture is found in one of the rooms of the )alace. which was in turn applied o!er stone supports anchored to the walls. The name )uuc comes from some !ery modest ele!ations found near y.M#L #onstruction work in ="mal egan in the >th century &. . something that leads to the idea that it was used as a dwelling in its time. 5ne of the most spectacular e"amples of stucco sculpture in )alen1ue is the representation of the god of . years. The tower of the )alace.. ceilings or crests. lends a !ery distinct profile to )alen1ue. 7tucco was a !ery fine paste made of lime with a it of sand in it.. reached a high degree of perfection in )alen1ue. which the $ucatecans refer to as the :7ierra: )uuc. ut the effort went on for more than >. although it is thought that the original form was not preser!ed when the uilding was restored.7team aths and water distri ution installations ha!e een found in this uilding. This is the most important )uuc style city in the Mayan country. which may ha!e ser!ed as o ser!atory or watchtower.ecoration in relief. the interior side of the walls were co!ered with stucco and later painted. 'tucco &ecoration . (n many cases. oasting an admira le.eath. )umerals an& $lyphs (nside the )alace there is a series of stairs. +. decorated with glyphs and Maya numerals. dramatic realism in its features and detail. The unusually large si6e and the perfection of the workmanship in these reliefs sets them apart from the rest of mar!els found inside this super uilding... where a cross-eyed Mayan priest shows his carefully modeled face from a doorhead.

. while the superior half is decorated with ela orate limestone mosaics and car!ed masks that represent the god #hac. clim s to the top and to the temple itself.izar&/'oothsayer This temple rests upon a massi!e asement of elliptical shape. human shapes. with superimposed ornaments such as car!ed loops. The soft colors of the limestone almost lend with the surroundings. meters wide. something that lends an elegant and so er air to the city. The walls are crowned y a cornice shaped as a knot. The palace which delimits the south side is ele!ated o!er a terrace si" meters high. The facades on the uildings that conform the 1uadrangle are adorned with ela orate representations of Mayan huts. with a highly slanted talus. ut not !ery high. lattices. meters long y 8. ?i!e #hac masks preside o!er it. with a serpent that shows its heads on each corner. accesi le y way of an ample staircase. small columns. rectangles and #hac masks.The low half of each edifice in ="mal is plain and unadorned. you pass elow a Mayan arch located halfway to the south side of the comple". The uildings in ="mal are huge. The Palace o.the .the $overnor The )alace is uilt o!er a staircased platform di!ided in three sections. *ua&rangle o. irds and monkeys.the )uns This !ery eautiful compound of four long palaces is grouped around a patio 9. Pyrami& o. To get in. The staircase. the ig nosed god of rain. which is so erly decorated. protected y rows of masks car!ed in stone. superimposed on the corners of each section.

0ouse o. Chac Mas3s #hac. doors and windows. ample than that The Maya 2ault The Maya in!ented their own !ault.the Turtles Towards the end of the terrace outside the )alace of the /o!ernor lies the House of the Turtles. capital city for @a ah. "#1#0 (nside the )uuc cities most easily side of the #ampeche to which acted as kilometers of reached its -. (t apogee etween the years 9. appears in @a ah as the principal decorati!e motif. masks. The growing of mai6e.. 2e ha!e to remem er the great importance that the Maya assigned to the weather. the huge nosed god for rain and weather. (t is !ery interesting to see how the ancient engineers managed to sol!e the pro lem of sustaining their roofs. laces and knots. which was almost 6one. (n @a ah there are se!eral places where the Maya !ault and arch may e appreciated... called Maya !ault or false !ault.. y <9 :sac 0:. .The decoration includes representations of sea shells. (t is connected to ="mal. and a frie6e with small columns surrounded y ornaments shaped as lacings and series of stone turtles anchored from roof to roof at the top. the seasons and the rain. @a ah is one of the Mayan accessed. (t shows a regular layout. a simple facade. made of superimposed flat stones.. &. two headed serpents and tufts of feathers car!ed in limestone. since it is located to the )yramid Highway that runs from M0rida. or Mayan white road. and although its history is much more rief period.

small columns and false capitals to adorn the walls of their city. the architects of @a ah used car!ed lacings. to the -th century &. #hac was (and still is) a deity much appreciated y the Maya for of that reason.#.. from the Drd century B.crowned y ornamented crests. along with ="mal.*. '#4IL an& L#1)5 'ot far from @a ah.. Bust in the middle of the dense /uatemalan tropical forest. is what made them different from the nomad peoples. Mayan priests managed to accomplish one of their more e"trordinary feats . Her constructi!e de!elopment spans more than <. The small centre of 7ayil oasts a couple of uildings decorated in the )uuc style. when the lowland cities of the Maya were in decadence or already a andoned.the astronomical o ser!ations and measurements that led to the de!elopment of the Maya calendar. The so called 5 ser!atory was perhaps used as an astronomical o ser!ation de!ice.. the greatest of all the ancient Maya cities thri!edC 7ayil. years. hunters-gatherers with no means for a sedentary life. &long with #hac. a system more precise than the /regorian calendar we use todayE . hence the name. the picture of which is the Maya &rchitecture known as )uuc style.considered as a god. in the department of El )et0n. This 6one was de!eloped at the eginning of the 9th century &. & definite characteristic of its architecture is the height of its temples and palaces -sometimes counting se!eral storeys. 7ayil and Aa n% complete... ?inely car!ed lintels and doorheads are also found in 7ayil. 'ayil. 2ith rudimentary instruments..

Hence the name. is the modern name for the city of Gam%. close to #hetumal. and it was still thri!ing when the 7panish arri!ed. The Maya families who li!e near y clim e!ery day to the roof of the uilding to gain access to the round mouth that opens to the water elow. (t is the first thing the fortunate tra!eler sees when he or she arri!es in the city. this last meaning 7unrise. which means wall in the Maya tongue. & chultFn is an underground reser!oir of water. (n this way they get the water they need for personal use. on the Me"ican southeast #ari ean coast. Tulum. The rest of the perimeter of the city is protected y a strong stone wall.. They were ama6ed y the eauty. 2hat gi!es deser!ed fame to Aa n% is its great Mayan arch. along with the sac 0s. to this day. > meters tall. which connects two ad3acent 1uadrangles. Tulum Tulum. daily ath included. the Edifice of the #olumns permits access. si6e and strength of the city. These maritime shelters. (t is uilt o!er a cliff that falls to the ocean. Towards the end of the ceremonial esplanade. capital for the state of Huintana Ioo. to the water stored in the chultún elow.. &.La%n6. Tulum reached its highest splendor in the <*. or white .. commonly uilt in the $ucat%n to store rainwater. (t must has een an important point in the network of commercial ports and ha!ens that the Maya maintained o!er all of the southeast coast of the $ucat%n peninsula..

and the Temple of the .escending god. "a%ah 89@ . The Temple of the ?rescoes. Photo 'trips -rom this article .Las 7otos 89: .Ti3al . were the heart of the communications and transportation system used y the $ucat%n Maya in their time. &mong these areC The #astle.Palen=ue 89> . Tulum 89< . La%n6 .roads.+?mal .'ayil . The 2atchtower. Temples and administrati!e uildings are located inside the fortress.