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Pyramids of Mesoamerica

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Tempest
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« on: May 13, 2007, 01:22:34 am »


Most Ancient Mesoamerican civilisations built pyramid-shaped structures. These were also usually step pyramids, with temples on top - more akin to the ziggurats of Mesopotamia than to the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. The Mesoamerican region's largest pyramid by volume - indeed, the largest in the world by volume - is the Great Pyramid of Cholula, in the Mexican state of Puebla.

Most Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations built pyramid-shaped structures. These were also usually step pyramids, with temples on top - more akin to the ziggurats of Mesopotamia than to the pyramids of Ancient Egypt. The Mesoamerican region's largest pyramid by volume - indeed, the largest in the world by volume - is the Great Pyramid of Cholula, in the Mexican state of Puebla.

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« Reply #1 on: May 13, 2007, 01:25:08 am »

Pyramid of Cholula





The Great Pyramid of Cholula, the world's largest monument and largest Pre-Columbian pyramid by volume, is a huge complex located in Cholula, Puebla, Mexico.

The temple-pyramid complex was built over many generations, from the 2nd century BC to the early 16th century, and was dedicated to the deity Quetzalcoatl. It has a base of 450 by 450 m (1476x1476 ft) and a height of 66 m (217 ft). According to the Guinness Book of Records, it is in fact the largest pyramid as well as the largest monument ever constructed anywhere in the world, with a total volume estimated at 4.45 million metres, almost one third larger than that of the Great Pyramid of Giza in Egypt. (The Giza pyramid is higher, however.) The Aztecs believed that Xelhua built the Great Pyramid of Cholula.

Today the pyramid at first appears to be a natural hill surmounted by a church. This is the Church of Our Lady of the Remedies, also known as the Santuario de la Virgen de los Remedios (Sanctuary of the Virgin of the Remedies), which was built by the Spanish in colonial times (1594) on the site of a pre-Hispanic temple. The church is a major Catholic pilgrimage destination, and the site is also used for the celebration of indigenous rites.

Many ancient sites in South America are found under modern Catholic holy sites, due to the practice of the church attempting to meld their beliefs with the natives.Because of the historic and religious significance of the church, which is a designated colonial monument, the pyramid as a whole has not been excavated and restored, as have the smaller but better-known pyramids at Teotihuacan. Inside the pyramid are some five miles (8 km) of tunnels excavated by archeologists.



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« Reply #2 on: May 13, 2007, 01:27:11 am »

Aztecs

The Aztecs, a people with a rich mythology and cultural heritage, dominated central Mexico in the 14th, 15th and 16th centuries. Their capital was Tenochtitlan on the shore of Lake Texcoco - the site of modern-day Mexico City. They were linguistically related to, and culturally in awe of, the Toltecs, whose building styles they adopted and adapted.


Xochicalco



Xochicalco is a Pre-Columbian archeological site in the western part of the Morelos, Mexico. The name "Xochicalco" means "House of the Flowers" in the Nahuatl language. The site is located 38 km southwest of Cuernavaca, about 76 miles by road from Mexico City.

The main ceremonial center is atop an artificially leveled hill, with remains of subsidiary buildings, mostly unexcavated, in the surrounding area. The site was occupied by 200 BC, with the most notable architecture built between about 700 and 1000 AD. At its peak, the city may have had a population of up to 20,000 people.

Of special interest are sculptured reliefs on the sides of some buildings. The Temple of the Feathered Serpent has fine stylized depictions of that deity in a style which includes apparent influences of Teotihuacan and Maya art. It has been speculated that Xochicalco may have had a community of artists for other parts of Mesoamerica.

Other monuments at the site include several other step-pyramid temples, palaces, two ball courts, sweat-baths, an unusual row of circular altars, and a cave with steps carved down into it. The site also has some free-standing sculptured stelae; others were removed from their original location and are now on display in the INAH museum in Mexico City and at the site museum.

The ruins were first described by explorer Antonio Alzate in 1777. Alexander von Humboldt published illustrations and a description of Xochicalco in 1810. Emperor Maximilian of Mexico visited the ruins. The Temple of the Feathered Serpent was restored by Mexican archeologist Leopoldo Batres in 1910. Major archeological excavations and further restorations were done in a project from the 1940s through the 1960s. Xochicalco is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a tourist destination.

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« Reply #3 on: May 13, 2007, 01:28:45 am »

Great Pyramid of Tenochtitlan



The Great Pyramid or Templo Mayor was the main temple of the Aztec capital of Tenochtitlan (modern Mexico City). The temple rose 60 m (197 ft) above the city's ritual precinct, surmounted by dual shrines to the deities Huitzilopochtli (god of war and sun) and Tlaloc (god of rain and fertility). It was mostly destroyed in 1521, along with the Aztec empire, by the Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés. Numerous smaller buildings and platforms associated with the temple formed a closely-situated complex around its base. A stucco relief depicting a tzompantli, or "skull rack", decorated one platform leading to the temple. The temple was enlarged several times, and for the last time in 1497, when between 3,000 and 84,000 people were sacrificed over 4 days during its reconsecration.

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Malinalco is a city in Mexico State, Mexico. The town serves as the municipal seat of the Municipality of Malinalco. The municipality is located in the southwestern portion of the state. It covers a total surface area of 186.28 km and, in the year 2000 census, reported a population of 21,712. The municipality is also home to the town of Chalma, a place of Roman Catholic pilgrimage.



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« Reply #4 on: May 13, 2007, 01:31:01 am »

Maya

The Maya are a people of southern Mexico and northern Central America (Guatemala, Belize, western Honduras, and El Salvador) with some 3,000 years of history. Archaeological evidence shows the Maya started to build ceremonial architecture approximately 3,000 years ago. The earliest monuments consisted of simple burial mounds, the precursors to the spectacular stepped pyramids from the Terminal Pre-classic period and beyond. These pyramids relied on intricate carved stone in order to create a stair-stepped design. Many of these structures featured a top platform upon which a smaller dedicatory building was constructed, associated with a particular Maya deity. Maya pyramid-like structures were also erected to serve as a place of interment for powerful rulers. Maya pyramidic structures occur in a great variety of forms and functions, bounded by regional and period differences.


Altun Ha



Altun Ha is the name given ruins of an ancient Maya city in Belize, located in the Belize District about 30 miles (50 km) north of Belize City and about 6 miles (10 km) west of the shore of the Caribbean Sea."Altun Ha" is a modern name in the Maya language, coined by translating the name of the nearby village of Rockstone Pond. The ancient name is at present unknown.The largest of Altun Ha's temple-pyramids, the "Temple of the Masonry Altars", is 54 feet (16 m) high. A drawing of this structure is the logo of Belize's leading brand of beer, "Belikin".

The site covers an area of about 5 miles (8 km) square. The central square mile of the site has remains of some 500 structures.Archeological investigations show that Altun Ha was occupied by 200 BC. The bulk of construction was from the Maya Classic era, c. 200 to 900 AD, when the site may have had a population of about 10,000 people. About 900 there was some looting of elite tombs of the site, which some think is suggestive of a revolt against the site's rulers.

The site remained populated for about another century after that, but with no new major ceremonial or elite architecture built during that time. After this the population dwindled, with a moderate surge of reoccupation in the 12th century before declining again to a small agricultural village.

The ruins of the ancient structures had their stones reused for residential construction of the agricultural village of Rockstone Pond in modern times, but the ancient site did not come to the attention of archeologists until 1963, when the existence of a sizable ancient site was recognized from the air by pilot and amateur Mayanist Hal Ball.

Starting in 1965 an archeological team lead by Dr. David Pendergast of the Royal Ontario Museum began extensive excavations and restorations of the site, which continued through 1970. One of the most spectacular discoveries is a large (almost 10 pounds or 5 kilograms) piece of jade elaborately carved into an image of the head of the Maya Sun God, Kinich Ahau. This jade head is considered one of the national treasures of Belize. A road connects Altun Ha to Belize's Northern Highway, and the site is accessible for tourism.

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« Reply #5 on: May 13, 2007, 01:32:41 am »

Calakmul



Calakmul is the name of both a municipality and a major archeological site in the Mexican state of Campeche, in the central part of the Yucatán Peninsula.

Calakmul (also Kalakmul and other less frequent variants) is also the name given to site of one of the largest ancient Maya cities ever uncovered. It is located in the 1,800,000 acre Calakmul Biosphere Reserve, deep in the jungles of the Petén, 30 km from the Guatemalan border.

First discovered from the air by biologist Cyrus L. Lundell of the Mexican Exploitation Chicle Company on December 29, 1931, the find was reported to Sylvanus G. Morley of the Carnegie Institute at Chichen Itza in March 1932. According to Lundell, who named the site, "In Maya, 'ca' means 'two', 'lak' means 'adjacent', and 'mul' signifies any artificial mound or pyramid, so 'Calakmul' is the 'City of the Two Adjacent Pyramids'."

Calakmul was the major seat of power of the Kaan or "Kingdom of the Snake", which first arose further north but built Calakmul into a Late Classic Era superpower ally of Caracol and rival to Tikal. A series of 11 painted vessels, dubbed Dynastic Vases, describe the ascensions of the Kaan rulers, including ancestral and legendary figures.

Calakmul probably supported a population of over 50,000, and so far more than 6,250 structures have been discovered in an area of up to 70 square kilometers with a substantial northern wall and a series of water management features (Calakmul's reservoirs include the largest in the Maya world) delineating a dense core of 22 square kilometers. Calakmul's 45 meter pyramid "Structure 2" is the largest Classic Era Maya temple platform known. Many of the city's monuments and structures are constructed of chalky local limestone, which has made interpretation of the site difficult.

After a long period of inactivity following Morely's 1932 expedition, the city was explored by William Folan between 1984 and 1994, and is now the subject of a large-scale project of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) under Ramon Carrasco.
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« Reply #6 on: May 13, 2007, 01:34:05 am »

Caracol



Caracol or El Caracol is the name given to a large ancient Maya site located in the Cayo District of the nation of Belize. Caracol is about 25 miles south of Xunantunich and San Ignacio Cayo, at an elevation of 1500 feet (460 m) above sea-level, in the foothills of the Maya Mountains. The name is Spanish for "The Snail"; the ancient Maya name may have been Oxhuitza.

The site was occupied as early as 1200 BC, but had its greatest period of construction in the Maya Classic period, with over 40 monuments dated between 485 to 889 which record the dynastic sequence of the rulers.

Ancient Caracol was one of the largest ancient Maya cities, covering some 65 square miles (168 kms) with an estimated peak population of about 120,000, or possibly even 180,000 people. One monument here records a military victory over the army of Tikal in 562.

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« Reply #7 on: May 13, 2007, 01:36:41 am »

Palenque




Palenque is a Maya archeological site near the Usumacinta River in the Mexican state of Chiapas. It is a medium-sized site, much smaller than such huge sites as Tikal, but it contains some of the finest architecture, sculpture, and bas-relief carvings the Maya produced
The site was already long abandoned when the Spanish arrived in Chiapas. The first European to visit the ruins and publish an account was Father Pedro Lorenzo de la Nada in 1567; at the time the local Chol Maya called it Otolum meaning "Land with strong houses", de la Nada roughly translated this into Spanish to give the site the name "Palenque", meaning "fortification". Palenque also became the name for the town (Santo Domingo del Palenque) which was built over some peripheral ruins down in the valley from the main ceremonial center of the ancient city.
An ancient name for the city was Lakam Ha, which translates as "Big Water" or "Wide Water", for the numerous springs and wide cascades that are found within the site. Palenque was the capital of the important classic-age Mayan city-state of B'aakal (Bone).
The Maya Classic City
While the site was occupied by the middle Pre-Classic, it did not gain importance until several hundred years later. By 600 the first of the famous structures now visible were being constructed. Situated in the western reaches of Maya territory, on the edge of the southern highlands, B'aakal was a large and vital center of Maya civilization from the 5th century AD to the 9th century.
The B'aakal state had a chequered career. Its original dynasts were perhaps Olmec. Politically, the city experienced diverse fortunes, being disastrously defeated by Kalakmul in 599 and again in 611.
Nevertheless, B'aakal produced what is arguably the best-known Maya Ajaw (king or lord), Pacal the Great, who ruled from 615 to 683, and left one of the most magnificent tomb-works of ancient Mesoamerica, beneath the Temple of Inscriptions. This is a grand temple atop a step pyramid dedicated in 692; inside is an elaborate, long hieroglyphic text carved in stone detailing the city's ruling dynasty and the exploits of Pacal the Great.
A stone slab in the floor could be lifted up, revealing a passageway (filled in shortly before the city's abandonment and reopened by archeologists) to a long interior stairway leading back down to ground level and the shrine/tomb of the semi-divine Pacal. Over his crypt is an elaborate stone showing him falling into the underworld, and taking the guise of one of the Maya Hero Twins in the Popul Vuh who defeated the lords of the underworld to achieve immortality.
Other important structures at Palenque include:
•   The Palace, actually a complex of several connected and adjacent buildings and courtyards built up over several generations on a wide artificial terrace. The Palace houses many fine sculptures and bas-relief carvings in addition to the distinctive four-story tower.
•   The Temple of the Cross, Temple of the Sun, and Temple of the Foliated Cross. This is a set of graceful temples atop step pyramids, each with an elaborately carved relief in the inner chamber. They commemorate the succession of King Chan Bahlum II to the throne after the death of Pacal the Great, and show the late king passing on his greatness to his successor. These temples were named by early explorers; the cross-like images in two of the reliefs actually depict the tree of creation at the center of the world in Maya mythology.
•   The Aqueduct constructed with great stone blocks with a three-meter-high vault to make the Otulum River flow underneath the floor of Palenque's main plaza.
•   The Temple of The Lion at a distance of some 200 meters south of the main group of temples; its name came from the elaborate bas-relief carving of a king seated on a throne in the form of a jaguar.
•   Structure XII with a bas-relief carving of the God of Death.
•   Temple of the Count another elegant Classic Palenque temple, which got its name from the fact that early explorer Jean Frederic Waldeck lived in the building for some time, and Waldeck claimed to be a Count.
The site also has a number of other temples, tombs, and elite residences, some a good distance from the center of the site, a court for playing the Mesoamerican Ballgame, and an interesting stone bridge over the Otulum River some distance below the Aquaduct.
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« Reply #8 on: May 13, 2007, 01:38:01 am »

Tikal



Tikal is the largest of the ancient ruined cities of the Maya civilization. It is located in the El Peten department of Guatemala. The ruins lay on lowland rainforest. Conspicuous trees at the Tikal park include gigantic ceiba (Ceiba pentandra) the sacred tree of the Maya; tropical cedar (Cedrela odorata), and mahogany (Swietenia). Regarding the fauna, agouti, spider monkeys, howler monkeys, ocellated turkeys, guans, toucans, green parrots and leaf-cutting ants can be seen there regularly. Jaguars and coatis are said to roam in the park.

Tikal was one of the major cultural and population centers of the Maya civilization. Monumental architecture was built here as early as the 4th century BC. The city was at its height in the Maya Classic Period, approximately 200 AD to 850 AD, after which no new major monuments were built, some of the palaces of the elite were burned, and the population gradually declined until the site was abandoned by the end of the 10th century.

The name "Tikal" means "Place of Voices" or "Place of Tongues" in Maya, which may be an ancient name for the city, although the ancient hieroglyphs usually refer to it as Mutal or Yax Mutal, meaning "Green Bundle", and perhaps metaphorically "First Prophecy".

Scholars estimate that at its peak its population was between 100,000 -- 200,000.

The site presents hundreds of significant ancient buildings, only a fraction of which have been excavated in the decades of archeological work.

The most prominent surviving buildings include six very large step pyramids supporting temples on their tops. They were numbered geographically by early explorers. They were built during the city's height from the late 7th and early 9th century. Temple I was built around 695; Temple III in 810; The largest, Temple-pyramid IV, some 72 meters (230 feet) high, was dedicated in 720. Temple V is from about 750.

Temple VI was dedicated in 766.The ancient city also has the remains of royal palaces, in addition to a number of smaller pyramids, palaces, residences, and inscribed stone monuments. There is even a building which seemed to have been a jail, originally with wooden bars across the windows and doors. There are also several courts for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame.

The residential area of Tikal covers an estimated 60 square km (23 square miles), much of which has not yet been cleared or excavated.

Some of the pyramids of Tikal are over 60 meters high (200 feet).A huge set of earthworks has been discovered ringing Tikal with a 6 meter wide trench behind a rampart. Only some 9km of it has been mapped; it may have enclosed an area of some 125 km square.

Recently, a project exploring the earthworks has shown that the scale of the earthworks is highly variable and that in many places it is inconsequential as a defensive feature. In addition, some parts of the earthwork were integrated into a canal system. The earthwork of Tikal varies significantly in coverage from what was originally proposed and it is much more complex and multifaceted than originally thought.

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« Reply #9 on: May 13, 2007, 01:39:24 am »

Uxmal


Uxmal is a large Pre-Columbian ruined city of the Maya civilization in the state of Yucatán, Mexico.

Uxmal is pronounced "Oosh-mahl". The place name is Pre-Columbian and it is usually assumed to be an archaic Maya language phrase meaning "Built Three Times", although some scholars of the Maya language dispute this derivation.

Even before the restoration work Uxmal was in better condition than many other Maya sites thanks to being unusually well built. Much was built with well cut stones not relying on plaster to hold the building together. The Maya architecture here is considered matched only by that of Palenque in elegance and beauty. The Puuc style of Maya architecture predominates. Thanks to its good state of preservation, it is one of the few Maya cities where the casual visitor can get a good idea of how the entire ceremonial center looked in ancient times.

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« Reply #10 on: May 13, 2007, 01:42:17 am »

Some of the more noteworthy buildings.



The Governor's Palace, a long low building atop a huge platform,
with the longest facades in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.



The Adivino or "Pyramid of the Magician", a fine pyramid temple unusual in several ways. The layers of the step pyramid are oval, rather than the usual rectangular or square shape. It was a common practice in Mesoamerica to build new temple pyramids atop older ones, but here a newer pyramid was built centered slightly to the east of the older pyramid, so that on the west side the temple atop the old pyramid is preserved, with the newer temple above it.
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« Reply #11 on: May 13, 2007, 01:45:59 am »


The Nunnery Quadrangle (a nickname given to it by the Spanish; it was a government palace) is the finest of Uxmal's several fine quadrangles of long buildings with elaborately carved facades on both the inside and outside faces.



A large Ballcourt for playing the Mesoamerican ballgame, which an
inscription there informs us was dedicated in 901 by Chan Chak K'ak'nal-Ahau

A number of other temple-pyramids, quadrangles, and other monuments, some of significant size, and in varying states of preservation, are also at Uxmal. The majority of hieroglyphic inscriptions were on a series of stone stelae unusually grouped together on a single platform. The stelae depict the ancient rulers of the city, and they show signs that they were deliberately broken and toppled in antiquity; some were re-erected and repaired.A further suggestion of possible war or battle is found in the remains of a wall which encircled most of the central ceremonial center. A large raised stone pedestrian causeway links Uxmal with the site of Kabah, some 18 km to the south.

Modern history of the ruins

The site, located not far from Mérida beside a road to Campeche, has attracted many visitors since the time of Mexico's independence. The first detailed account of the ruins was published by Jean Frederic Waldeck in 1838. John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood made two extended visits to Uxmal in the early 1840s, with architect/draftsman Catherwood reportedly making so many plans and drawings that they could be used to construct a duplicate of the ancient city (unfortunately most of the drawings are lost).

Desire Charnay took a series of photographs of Uxmal in 1860. Some three years later Empress Carlota of Mexico visited Uxmal; in preparation for her visit local authorities had some statues and architectural elements depicting phallic themes removed from the ancient facades.

Sylvanus G. Morley made a map of the site in 1909 which included some previously overlooked buildings. The Mexican' governments first project to consolidate some of the structures from risk of collapse or further decay came in 1927.

In 1930 Frans Blom led a Tulane University expedition to the site which included making plaster casts of the façades of the "Nunnery Quadrangle"; using these casts a replica of the Quadrangle was constructed and displayed at the 1933 World's Fair in Chicago, Illinois.

In 1936 a further Mexican government repair and consolidation program was begun under José Erosa Peniche.

Queen Elizabeth II of the United Kingdom visited on 27 February of 1975 for the inaguration of the site's sound & light show; when the presentation reached the point where the sound system played the Maya prayer to Chaac, a sudden torrential downpour fell upon the gathered dignitaries, despite the fact that it was the middle of the dry season. Two hotels and a small museum have been built within the remains of the ancient city.


http://www.crystalinks.com/pyramidmesoamerica.html

http://www.crystalinks.com/pyramidmesoamerica2.html
« Last Edit: May 13, 2007, 01:47:43 am by Tempest » Report Spam   Logged

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