Friday, June 15, 2012
NW Yucatan Part 13, The North and West sides of Dzibilchaltún's Great Plaza
The Great Plaza
similar stelae in other Maya cities usually contain pictures of priest-rulers and Maya hieroglyphs outlining dynastic histories replete with victories and conquests.
Structure 36 & 39: The Main Pyramid and its undergound chamber
period of great turmoil, Classical Maya society was disintegrating. People were abandoning many of the famous cities in Guatemala and the southern Yucatan and moving into the northern area. "Mexicanized" Maya from the Gulf Coast, who had been heavily influenced by the Toltec civilization of Central Mexico, began an invasion of northern Yucatan, eventually conquering many cities in the area, including the city they renamed Chichen Itza.
Structure 38: An Ancient Palace
Metates (may-ta-tays) were used to grind maiz (corn). The roundish object in the larger trough is a mano, the rock used to do the grinding. Metates and manos can still be found in Mexican hardware stores. They are not tourist nicknacks, but functional kitchen implements. This is one of the oldest continuously used technologies on earth, dating back to 7000 BC. In addition to the metates, archaeologists also found various pieces of pottery at Structure 38. However, those pieces were in the Dzibilchaltún museum which was closed for renovation when we visited.
Maya cosmology. They believed that after death a person's soul entered an underworld with nine levels, the lowest of which was Mitnal, ruled by Ah Puch, the God of Death. Visible above, on top of the long arm of the L, are two rooms, each with a doorway facing the Great Plaza. The short arm, which extends west, is topped by another two rooms. These are back to back, divided lengthwise by a wall, and with a doorway facing north and another to the south. As with Structure 38, the forest behind this temple is filled with additional temples, homes, and other structures.
This completes Part 13 of my NW Yucatan series. In the next part we will continue our examination of the Great Plaza structures, including a palace built on a platform that is the longest in all of Mesoamerica. I always welcome feedback, corrections, and--especially in this case--additional information. If you would like to do this, please use the Comments section below, or email me directly.
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Hasta luego, Jim