Uxmal is an ancient Maya city of the classical period. Today it is one of the most important archaeological sites of Maya culture, along with those of Chichen Itza and Tikal. It is located in the Puuc region and is considered one of the Maya cities most representative of the region's dominant architectural style.
It is located 62 km south of Mérida, capital of Yucatán state in Mexico. Its buildings are noted for their size and decoration. Linking the buildings, as well as to other cities in the area such as Chichén Itzá and Tikal in modern-day Guatemala, are ancient roads left by the Maya called sacbes.
Its buildings are typical of the Puuc style, with smooth low walls that open on ornate friezes based on representations of typical Maya huts, which are represented by columns (representing the reeds with which were built the walls of the huts) and trapezoidal shapes (representing the thatched roofs), entwined snakes and, in many cases two-headed snakes, masks of the rain god, Chaac with its big noses that represent the rays of the storms, and feathered serpents with open fangs leaving from the same human beings.
While much work has been done at the popular tourist destination of Uxmal to consolidate and restore buildings, little in the way of serious archeological excavation and research has been done; therefore, the city's dates of occupation are unknown and the estimated population (about 15,000 people) is at present only a very rough guess subject to change upon better data.
Description Of The Site
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 set into a core of concrete 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.
Some of the more noteworthy buildings include:
The Governor's Palace, a long low building atop a huge platform, with the longest façades in Pre-Columbian Mesoamerica.
The Adivino (a.k.a. the Pyramid of the Magician or the Pyramid of the Dwarf), is a stepped pyramid structure, unusual among Maya structures in that its layers' outlines are oval or elliptical in shape, instead of the more common rectilinear plan. 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.
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 façades 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 the ruler Chan Chak K'ak'nal Ajaw, also known as Lord Chac before the decipherment of his corresponding name glyphs. A number of other temple-pyramids, quadrangles, and other monuments, some of significant size, and in varying states of preservation, are also at Uxmal.