Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal

Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal

The Mayan town of Uxmal, in Yucatán, was founded c. A.D. 700 and had some 25,000 inhabitants. The layout of the buildings, which date from between 700 and 1000, reveals a knowledge of astronomy. The Pyramid of the Soothsayer, as the Spaniards called it, dominates the ceremonial centre, which has well-designed buildings decorated with a profusion of symbolic motifs and sculptures depicting Chaac, the god of rain. The ceremonial sites of Uxmal, Kabah, Labna and Sayil are considered the high points of Mayan art and architecture.

Ville précolombienne d'Uxmal

La ville maya d'Uxmal, dans le Yucatan, a été fondée vers l'an 700 et compta jusqu'à 25 000 habitants. Construits entre 700 et 1000, ses édifices sont disposés en fonction de données astronomiques. La pyramide du Devin, ainsi nommée par les Espagnols, domine l'espace des cérémonies composé de bâtiments d'une architecture soignée, richement décorés de motifs symboliques et ornés de sculptures représentant Chaac, le dieu de la Pluie. Les sites cérémoniels d'Uxmal, Kabáh, Labná et Sayil constituent l'apogée de l'art et de l'architecture mayas.

آثار منطقة اوكسمال التي تعود الى ما قبل اكتشاف كريستوف كولومبوس قارة اميركا

تأسَّست مدينة المايا أوكسمال التي تقع في يوكاتان حوالى العام 700 ويصل عدد سكّانها إلى 25000 تقريبًا. فعماراتها المبنيّة بين العام 700 والعام 1000 منظمة وفقًا لمعلومات فلكية. ويطلّ هرم الديفان كما يسميه الاسبان على المكان حيث تقام الاحتفالات والذي يتألَّف من مبانٍ هندستها مُتقنة ومزينة بزخرفاتٍ رمزيّةٍ وبمنحوتاتٍ تمثل تشاك، اله المطر. ومواقع اوكسمال وكاباه ولابنا وساييل حيث كانت تقام الاحتفالات الدينية تشكل ذروة فن حضارة المايا و هندستها.

source: UNESCO/ERI

乌斯马尔古镇

位于尤卡坦的乌斯马尔玛雅城建于公元700年左右,当时约有人口25 000人。城中的建筑都可以追溯到公元700年至1000年间,从当地的城镇布局中我们找到古代天文学思想在其中的体现。西班牙人所称的“占卜者金字塔”是进行宗教仪式的中心,那里有许多设计精巧的房屋,这些房屋都装饰有描写雨神查克的图案和雕刻。乌斯马尔、卡卜、拉巴那以及萨伊尔这些宗教仪式的遗址都代表了玛雅人艺术和建筑的顶峰。

source: UNESCO/ERI

Доиспанский город Ушмаль

Город индейцев майя Ушмаль на полуострове Юкатан был основан примерно в 700 г. и имел порядка 25 тыс. жителей. Планировка зданий, относящихся к периоду 700-1000 гг., свидетельствует о наличии у строителей здания астрономии. «Пирамида Колдуна», как ее называли испанцы, доминирует в церемониальном центре, хорошо спроектированные здания которого обильно украшены символическими сюжетами и скульптурами Чака – Бога дождя и плодородия. Церемониальные места Ушмаля, Кабы, Лабны и Сайиля можно рассматривать как самое высокое достижение культуры и архитектуры майя.

source: UNESCO/ERI

Ciudad prehispánica de Uxmal

Situada en el Yucatán, la ciudad maya de Uxmal fue fundada hacia el año 700 y llegó a contar con cerca de 25.000 habitantes. La disposición de sus edificios, construidos entre los años 700 y 1000, muestra los conocimientos de astronomía de los mayas. El edificio bautizado por los españoles con el nombre de Pirámide del Adivino domina el centro ceremonial, que está integrado por monumentos de impecable trazado ricamente ornamentados con motivos simbólicos y efigies esculpidas de Chaac, el dios de la lluvia. Los sitios ceremoniales de Uxmal, Kabáh, Labná y Sayil marcan el apogeo del arte y la cultura mayas.

source: UNESCO/ERI

古代都市ウシュマル

source: NFUAJ

Pre-Spaanse stad Uxmal

De pre-Spaanse Maya stad Uxmal, in Yucatán, werd in 700 na Christus gesticht en had ongeveer 25.000 inwoners. Het ontwerp van de gebouwen – die dateren uit 700 tot 1.000 na Christus – vormt bewijs van een uitstekende astronomische kennis. De ‘Piramide van de Waarzegger’ – zoals de Spanjaarden het noemden – domineert het ceremoniële centrum. In het centrum zijn mooie gebouwen te vinden, rijkelijk versierd met een overdaad aan symbolische motieven en sculpturen van Chaac, de god van de regen. De ceremoniële delen van Uxmal, Kabah, Labna en Sayil worden beschouwd als de hoogtepunten van de Maya kunst en architectuur.

Source: unesco.nl

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Monuments of the city, Uxmal © UNESCO
Outstanding Universal Value

Brief synthesis

The ruins of the ceremonial structures at Uxmal represent the pinnacle of late Maya art and architecture in their design, layout and ornamentation, and the complex of Uxmal and its three related towns of Kabah, Labná and Sayil admirably demonstrate the social and economic structure of late Maya society.

The archaeological site of Uxmal is located 62 kilometers south of Merida, forming the centre of the Puuc ("hill" or "chain of low mountains") region which covers some 7500 km2 in the south-western part of the Mexican state of Yucatan. The region was a centre for trade and the exchange of ideas - and probably also people - with other parts of Mexico.

The 16th century A.D. Maya history known as The Books of Chilam Balam dates the foundation of Uxmal to the later 10th century A.D. Archaeological investigations and radiocarbon dating suggest that the main structures in the complex, including a series of hydraulic works, such as reservoirs for storing rainwater (the chultunoob), were built between the 8th  and 10th century A.D. During this period Uxmal grew from a peasant town into a political and administrative centre with up to 20,000 inhabitants. The existence of a town wall reflects a situation of conflict, probably due to the strengthening of other urban centres that eventually contested Uxmal's control of the region; Uxmal was abandoned by its inhabitants after the 10th century A.D. and became no more than a place of pilgrimage until the conquest by the Spanish.

Unlike most other prehispanic towns, Uxmal is not laid out geometrically. Its space is organized in relation to astronomical phenomena, such as the rising and setting of Venus, and adapted to the topography of the site, made up of a series of hills. The main characteristic of Puuc architecture is the division of the facades of buildings into two horizontal elements. The lower of these is plain and composed of carefully dressed blocks broken only by doorways. The upper level, by contrast, is richly decorated with symbolic motifs in a very plastic style; the individual blocks make up a form of mosaic. There are sculptures over the doorways and at the corners of the upper level, almost invariably composed of representations of the head of Chaac, the rain-god.

Some of the most important buildings at the site are the Pyramid of the Soothsayer, the Quadrangle of the Nuns, the Governor's Palace, the House of the Tortoises, the Ball Court, as well as the still not extensively investigated Southern Complex, which includes the Great Pyramid and the Pigeon House.

Important buildings at the other sites are the Palace at Sayil, and the Gateway Arch at Labná. Kabah, which in the region is only second to Uxmal in size and connected to the latter by a sacbe or raised causeway, has the Palace of the Masks or Codz Pop. However, investigation at these sites is still in its beginnings and holds great potential for the future.

Criterion (i) : The ruins of the ceremonial structures at Uxmal, Kabah, Labná and Sayil represent the pinnacle of late Maya art and architecture in their design, layout, and ornamentation.

Criterion (ii) :  The richness of the iconography in Uxmal´s buildings is a tangible expression of the complex Maya cosmogony and of the intimate relation they held with their environment. The art and architecture at Uxmal and its neighbouring sites furthermore bears witness to the migration of styles from the Rio Bec and Chenes region, as well as from central México.

Criterion (iii) : The greatness of the monuments and the magnificence of the architectural styles found at Uxmal reveal the importance of this city as a capital for economic and socio-political development of the prehispanic Maya civilization. The complex of Uxmal and its three related towns of Kabah, Labná and Sayil admirably demonstrate the social and economic structure of late Maya society before it disappeared in the Terminal Classic Period.

Integrity

Due to the region's remoteness and sparse population, the monuments, especially at Labná and Sayil, are still very well preserved. This becomes evident when comparing the buildings with photos and drawings from the late 19th and early 20th century.

The earliest reports on the state of conservation and on cleaning and protection work at Uxmal were produced in 1913 and 1914. Systematic archaeological work began in 1940, carried out by US archaeologists, and has continued since that time, carried out by Mexican specialists in association with conservation and restoration activities. Work on reforestation and tidying up of the whole area has also been in progress over recent years. A new system of signage has been introduced and the museum was set up in 1986, along with better parking facilities.

Authenticity

Conservation activities at Uxmal have respected and incorporated original materials such as lime, and made use of advanced technological resources in order to preserve the original majesty of the buildings, and assure structural and decorative precision of the restorations. Vaults and walls that were damaged by time and climatic conditions were re-erected. However, the work carried out over some seventy years at Uxmal has been confined to consolidation and anastylosis, well within the parameters laid down in the 1964 Venice Charter.

Protection and management requirements

The 1972 Federal Law on Monuments and Archaeological, Artistic, and Historical Zones establishes public ownership of all archaeological properties, even if these are situated on privately owned lands. This applies in the case of the Hacienda Uxmal, where part of the archaeological zone is located. The buffer zone is defined by the decree of 1994. Part of the buffer zone is owned by the Municipality of Santa Elena, but the major part belongs to the privately owned Hacienda Uxmal.

Management of the heritage aspects of the site is carried out by the Yucatan Regional Centre of the National lnstitute for Anthropology and History (INAH). Matters relating to land-use, urban development and the environment are the concern of the Ministry of Social Development (SEDESOL).

There is an INAH staff of 22 people at Uxmal, responsible for guardianship and maintenance work. Research and conservation is carried out by specialists from the Regional Centre at Merida. The SEDESOL Regional Centre is also involved in land-use and environmental aspects of management. The Cultural lnstitute of the State of Yucatan is responsible for the management of the site museum and its service unit, established in 1986 with a permanent staff of 25 employees. There is no specific management plan for Uxmal, because it was considered that the lack of threat from, for example, urban development meant that normal INAH maintenance and research programmes constituted adequate provisions. However, the authorities now consider it a matter of priority to establish a management plan for Uxmal and the Ruta Puuc. As a part of this plan it is considered important to unite the efforts of all three levels of government and to offer opportunities for capacity building for a new generation of professionals in the area of architecture and restoration. An important aspect to be considered in this context is the inclusion of social and environmental perspectives that will help to preserve social sustainability as well as cultural and natural resources of the sites, as a legacy for future generations.

Long Description

The ruins of the ceremonial structures at Uxmal represent the pinnacle of late Mayan art and architecture in their design, layout and ornamentation, and the complex of Uxmal and its three related towns of Kabáh, Labná and Sayil admirably demonstrate the social and economic structure of late Mayan society.

Uxmal forms the centre of the Puuc region in the south-western part of the State of Yucatán. The archaeological investigations and radiocarbon dating suggest that the main structures in the complex were built between AD 700 and 1000. The earliest settlement in the area was around 800 BC (pre-Classic Maya period), but its main development and eventual disappearance was in the Late Classic period (AD 650-1000), notable for the communications and movements between different regions of Mesoamerica.

There are many small valleys in the Puuc region that permitted substantial farming activities; in the Spanish colonial period it was considered to be the 'granary of Yucatán', producing two crops a year, in the Mayan period this was the basis for trade and the exchange of ideas, and probably also people, with other parts of Mexico. This is well illustrated by the Puuc artistic tradition, the evolution of which also demonstrates the economic, political and religious development of Uxmal. A series of hydraulic works, such as reservoirs for storing water, dates from the first phase. The second phase was that of the great urban capitals of the theocratic states that dominated the south-west of Yucatán, of which Uxmal was among the most important.

The period between then and the arrival of the Spaniards was one of commercial states and kingdoms. It was a time of great prosperity, when other urban centres grew up and contested control of the region with Uxmal; the town wall reflects this situation. The Mayapán League broke up during the long war between Chichen Itza and Mayapán in 1441-1541. Uxmal was abandoned by its inhabitants and became no more than a place of pilgrimage until the Spanish conquest.

The main characteristic of Puuc architecture is the division of the facades of buildings into two horizontal elements. The lower of these is plain and composed of carefully dressed blocks broken only by doorways. The upper level, by contrast, is richly decorated with symbolic motifs in a strongly plastic style; the individual blocks make up a form of mosaic. There are sculptures over the doorways and at the corners of the upper level, almost invariably composed of representations of the head of Chaac, the rain god.

By virtue of its height and bulk, the Pirámide del Adivino dominates the ensemble, despite its location in a lower-lying part of the site. It is made up of five superimposed elements, two of them reached by monumental stairways on either side of the structure. It is from the Late Classic period and brings together several artistic traditions, including the Toltec of Central Mexico.

The Cadrángulo de las Monjas is situated on an artificial platform and reached by a stairway on the southern side leading to a monumental gateway. The principal building, on the north side of the complex, is the only one that is two-storeyed; it is also the highest of the four. The decoration is especially rich, and is recognized to be an outstanding example of Mayan abstract and geometric art.

The Palacio del Gobernador (Governor's Palace) is constructed on a levelled natural feature and consists of three elements joined by covered vaults, the highest in the Mayan region. The Casa de las Tortugas is located on the same terrace as the Governor's Palace. It is simple in design but the overall effect is harmonious. The upper storey is decorated only with a series of slender columns supporting a robust cornice decorated with sculptures of tortoises, each different. The ball court, despite its smaller dimension, is an Uxmal example of importance. In style and construction it can be dated to the same period as the Quadrangle of the Nuns.

The Southern Complex: Grande Pirámide and Southern Group This part of the site has not been extensively investigated. The nine-component structure known as the Great Pyramid is less striking than the Pyramid of the Soothsayer. Its upper temple, known as the Temple of the Parrots, has a richly decorated lower storey, unlike other buildings at Uxmal, and probably dates to the earliest phase of the town.

Source: UNESCO/CLT/WHC
Historical Description

The 16th century Mayan history known as The Books of Chilam-Balam dates the foundation of Uxmal to the later 10th century, but archaeological investigations and radiocarbon dating suggest that the main structures in the complex were built between AD 700 and 1000. The earliest settlement In the area was around 800 BC (Pre-Classic Maya Period), but its main development and eventual disappearance was in the Late Classic Period (AD 65D-1000), notable for the communications and movements between different regions of Mesoamerica.

There are many small valleys in the Puuc region which permitted substantial farming activities; in the Spanish colonial period it was considered to be the "granary of Yucatan," producing two crops a year. In the Mayan period this was the basis for trade and the exchange of ideas, and probably also people, with other parts of Mexico. This is well illustrated by the Puuc artistic tradition, the evolution of which also demonstrates the economic, political, and religious development of Uxmal.

In the first phase, Uxmal was able to transform itself from a peasant town into a political and administrative centre. A series of hydraulic works, such as reservoirs for storing water, date from this phase. The second phase was that of the great urban capitals of the theocratic states that dominated the south-west of Yucatan, of which Uxmal was among the most important. lt was a period when great public buildings were constructed, and when the population of the town reached some 25,000 people.

The period between 1000 and the arrival of the Spaniards was that of commercial states and kingdoms. In fact, this lasted only two hundred years at Uxmal, since it was abandoned around 1200. The Yiu then settled there and formed the alliance known as the Mayapan League with the neighbouring towns of Chichen ltza and Mayapan. It was a period of great prosperity, when other urban centres grew up and contested control of the region with Uxmal; the town wall reflects this situation. The Mayapan League broke up during the long war between Chichen ltza and Mayapan in 1441-1541. Uxmal was abandoned by its inhabitants and became no more than a place of Pilgrimage until the conquest by the Spanish, who gave the surviving buildings their existing names, Which have little to do with their true functions.

Source: Advisory Body Evaluation