Friday, January 27, 2012

Maya Adventure, Destination Merida

Day 2, Mayan ruins at Dzibilchaltun ("Place of Inscribed Flat Stones")
1500 BC to Spanish conquest 1500 AD

*Temple of the Seven Dolls (Templo de las Siete Munecas) (background)*
*Structure 12 with Monolith (foreground)*
This is our first taste of the ruins here on the Yucatan Pennisula. Spectacular! The site is a work in progress with ongoing restoration of many structures spread over 100's of acres. The precision of the placement for the Temple of the Seven Dolls is interesting. The three openings in the top of the structure precisely line up the the solstices and equinoxes at sunrise when viewed from the east.

*Temple of the Seven Dolls (Templo de las Siete Munecas)*
This temple is named for the seven dolls that were found in the first excavation in 1945, and are now displayed at the onsite museum.

*Structure #44*
The interior of this massive structure has been excavated. However due to clumsy tourists, it is no longer open to the public. Couldn't even bribe our way in... Behind this, stretching into the forest are numerous ancient foundations, which probably composed the living quarters of the local Mayan "elite".

*Structure #39*
This unique, flat-topped pyramid is still being restored but we were able to climb to the top from the east side.

All these Dzibilchtaltun ruins were most likely used for spiritual observances. All the buildings were built out of quarried limestone. Major building projects were undertaken when the Mayan calender began a new cycle (or every 52 years). There are 100's of structures in this group. Surrounding all these building, and stretching into the impenetrable forest, are vast mounds of rubble not yet excavated or studied.

*Cenote Xcalah ("old people" in Mayan)*
Cenotes were thought to be gateways to the Mayan underworld and are formed as water wears away and dissolves the surrounding limestone. Much of the Yucatan is at or near sea level, and covered with a very thin layer of topsoil over limestone. The water that is collected in these pools was essential to Mayan civilization since there are no other major lakes or rivers inland. The end that Emily dangles her feet is over 150ft. deep and has been explored nearly 1 mile horizontally for Mayan artifacts. Many of these cenotes are linked together and compose a vast underground freshwater spring system.

The cenote fish are not shy about "tasting" whatever is dangled in the water. It was funny to listen to our guide, whom otherwise spoke very good English, try to pronounce "exfoliate".

Even though it is the dry season here in the Yucatan peninsula, recent storms have caused blooms of beautiful tropical foliage all over the Dzibilchaltun ruins.

*Museo Regional de Anthropoligia "Palacio Canton"*
The palace of ex-governor General Francisco Canton Rosado in Merida has been transformed into an exceptional display for a vast collection of Mayan artifacts in this wonderful regional museum.

This statue of Chaac, the Mayan rain god, came from the nearby Chichen Itza ruins. Many of the more delicate Mayan artifacts from around the Yucatan peninsula are housed in this museum in an attempt to preserve them indefinitely.

No comments:

Post a Comment