Approaching the Plaza
temescal (sweat bath). The northwest corner contains a entrance to underground chambers that include an astronomical observatory.
well-engineered system of drains, channels, and catchment basins. Since the food grown on the terraces immediately below the elite areas was insufficient to support Xochicalco's population of 10 - 15 thousand, the main agricultural areas were primarily around the lake and in the valley to the north.
Plaza of the Stela of Two Glyphs
planned it in advance and built it from a specific design, using carved stone models as guides. The whole process occurred over a relatively short period of time. It was not just the elite areas that were carefully designed, but also the lower terraces on which the common people constructed their homes and planted their gardens. Created in an era with no metal tools, no draft animals, and no wheeled vehicles, Xochicalco was a magnificent architectural achievement.
stela seen above is a replacement for the original, which is now in the site museum. In general, the purposes of stelae included commemorating significant events, such as a battle, the birth or death of a ruler or high-ranking individual, or the founding of a pyramid, temple, or even a whole city. The east temple was a two-story affair, with a staircase leading up onto a base platform. On top of the platform is a room containing four pillars. These once supported a roof which may have been made of perishable materials such as wood and thatch.
The Great Pyramid
The South Ball Court and Palace
The ring on the south wall. Rules of play seem to have varied from place to place. Some ball courts in Mesoamerica have rings, others don't. Generally, the ball could only be propelled by the shoulders, hips, and knees. The use of hands or feet was forbidden. One way to score was to pass the ball through the ring (assuming a court had one). This would have been difficult because the opening was only slightly wider than the ball. As with soccer, final scores were probably low. Injuries, and occasional deaths, weren't unusual since the rubber ball was solid and quite heavy. To protect themselves, players wore armor, helmets and a heavy stomach protector called a yoke. When human sacrifice occurred it sometimes involved the players. There is disagreement about whether the losers were beheaded as a penalty for defeat, or the winners to "honor" their victory. Go Team!
residential area which includes kitchens, workshops, storerooms, and a temescal. What relationship it might have had with the ball court is unknown. Perhaps this was where a visiting team stayed prior to a game. On the other hand, it might have simply belonged to a wealthy noble. The structure occupies an odd position, however, since it is outside the heavily defended area.
This completes Part 2 of my Xochicalco series. Next time we will take a look at the Plaza Principal and its temples, pyramids, and elite residential areas. I hope you enjoyed this posting. If so, please leave any questions and comments in the Comments section below or email them to me directly.
If you leave a question in the Comments section, PLEASE leave your email address so that I can respond.
Hasta luego, Jim