If you read the previous post, you know that we’ve finally arrived at the Maya archeological site of Yaxchilan on the banks of the Usamacinta river. There are more than 120 structures in the central area, distributed in three complexes at different elevations. Yaxchilan shares similar characteristics with other regional sites, including roof combs, stelae, carved lintels, alters and murals, among others. As I noted in the previous Palenque post, much of the ornamention was done by painting the layer of stucco covered the exterior of many buildings. Very little remains, but what does is breath-taking; it must have been simply amazing. Make sure to bring your flashlight! We were the only group there for the majority of our three-hour visit and I was by myself much of the time. It was pretty awe-inspiring to wander around alone and imagine what life must have been like over a thousand years ago. Let’s start the photo essay, shall we?
We entered the site at the rear of a temple which had a bunch of underground tunnels. You can see the base of the roof comb above my head.
Descent into creepy darkness, anyone?
Checking out the tunnels. Note the classic Maya arch.
In addition to bats, the tunnels had some awesome spiders. Check out those jaws!
The main courtyard is about 50 yards wide, 400 yards long, and is flanked with buildings.
One of the lintel carvings
This Maya writing is on the underside of one of the lintels. A good reason for tall people to duck and look up!
A close-up of one of the stelae carvings.
Another fantastically detailed stelae close-up!
Check out the staircase leading up from the main plaza to the Great Temple.
The Great Temple, which still has a fair amount of the roof comb intact.
The Maya in Yaxchilan supposedly believed their world would end if the head of this warrior, in the Great Temple, were replaced.
Three temples sit perched a few hundred feet above the river and the main site.
A cross-section of a building shows just how big a fan the Maya were of this arch (sorry, I'm obsessed).