Wednesday, August 7, 2013

Pyramid Adventure

The pyramid shape is said to hold many secrets and amazing properties. 
One of them is a sense of wonder.

We visited four Mayan sites (with links to the associated Wikipedia entries):
  1. Yaxchilan
  2. Bonampak
  3. Palenque
  4. Edzna
Here is a map of southern Mexico with these sites (along with many others) located:

The first one that we visited was Yaxchilan - a small but important city along the Usumacinta river that was at its height of power in the late classic period (approximately 600 AD to 800 AD).

We got to Yaxchilan via a motorized canoe along that river, with Mexico on one side and Guatemala on the other side.  From the canoe we saw several monkeys sleeping in the trees and one small crocodile sunning itself along the bank.

Nearby Yaxchilan is Bonampak, a small site that is known for its well preserved murals illustrating the life of the Mayans.  This carving of a Mayan warrior killing his enemy with a spear was on the ceiling above my head as I ducked through a short opening to enter the "Temple of the Murals."

The colors and details of the murals inside the temple were amazing - bright yellows, bright reds and bright blues!

I can only assume that the people depicted in the image below went through an acrimonious divorce at some point...  ;)

We visited Yaxchilan and Bonampak on the same day.

The next day, we visited the Mayan city of Palenque.  There are estimates that, at its peak, maybe 7,500 people lived there - many more than in the previous two Mayan cities we visited.

Almost every site, regardless of size, had some kind of ball court, like the one below from Palenque:

I was surprised by how narrow the ball courts were and did some internet research on how the game may have been played.  My favorite video is this one - the beginning goes on a bit about rubber balls in Mexico, but if you watch to the end (2 minutes and 16 seconds), you'll see the re-enactment.  

My favorite part of this site was the profiles that were carved everywhere:  

I don't know why, but I found those really fascinating.  

And the last site we visited (on yet a third day) was Edzna, again a smaller site that is off the beaten track but known for its five-story temple:  

I loved this one, mostly because it was almost deserted (I hate crowds).  

Well, deserted of tourists - we saw plenty of native inhabitants:  

And Ana hopped over a chain, ignoring a prohibiting sign, ("I'll get down if someone tells me to"), in order to pose for this picture:  

It's amazing to think of these civilizations, so many centuries ago, developing writing, mathematics, astronomy...  I wonder if, someday, people will visit the ruins of our cities and speculate about our culture and technology...  

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