Ancient Temples of Mayan Civilization

 
 
The Ancient Mayan Civilization might have fallen into decline a thousand years ago, but they were an advanced society which flourished in Mesoamerica long before the Spanish arrived in the sixteenth century.
 
History of Mayan Civilization:
 
It is beleived that the Mayan Civilization got established in the Rainy Forests of Southern Mexico, Guatemala and Belize, which reached an apex around 700-900 A.D. before it got declined. Like seen in India the people of Mayan were expert Astronomers and Traders as they were equally literate with a complicated language and their own books. Like other civilizations, they also had Great Rulers and Kings of thier time who were powerful and claimed to be descended from the Gods and the planets.
 
Mayan People and Culture:
 
The Mayan culture still existed even when the Spanish conquistadors arrived and like the other American peoples, they were too conquered and enslaved, their culture was forbidden, and their books were destroyed. But even at that time the Mayan proved tobe more difficult to assimilate than most. They tried and fought very hard which took them around 500 years, to maintain their culture and traditions. Today, one can see the Mayan people in Guatemala and parts of Mexico and Belize present in ethnic groups still holding fast to their traditions be in terms of language, dress and religion which date back us to the days of the mighty Mayan civilization.
 
The Mayan's were very skilled architects, who builded great cities of stone that remained even for thousand years even after their civilization fell into decline. The people of Mayan had built great structures like pyramids, palaces, temples, walls, residences and many more. They often used intricate stone carvings, stucco statues, and paint to decorate their buildings and houses. The one who is studying Architecure, the Mayan architecture is very important to them as it helps those to study one of the few aspects of Mayan Culture.
 
Construction of Mayan Temples:
 
When we look the structure of Mayan buildings, we come to know that the Mayan temples were also built of stones, with platforms on their top where wooden and thatch structures could be built or constructed. The shape of the temples were of pyramids, which have steep stone steps leading to the top, it was that place where some of the important ceremonies and sacrifices would took place of that time. Most of the temples are graced by elaborate stone carvings and glyph and one such example is the famous 'Heiroglyphic Stairway' at 'Copan'. The Mayan's built these Temples with astronomy keeping in their mind as certain temples are aligned to the movements of planets like Venus, the Sun or the Moon. One such example is the "Lost World Complex at Tikal", where the temple in pyramid shape faces three other temples. When climbed on top of the pyramid, one can view the other temples aligned with the rising sun on equinoxes and solstices when one of the most Important rituals of Mayan Civilization would have happened at that time.
 
1)Pyramid Of The Magician:
 
Uxmal("built thrice")is a destroyed Mayan city in Yucatan, Mexico which was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO in 1996 constructed in the 6th century. "Pyramid of the Magician" is derived from folk legends told by the indigenous Mayan people and stands to be one of the major landmarks also known as "House of the Dwarf". According to legend, it was built by a dwarf who hatched from an egg, and this dwarf grew into an adult in a day and builded this pyramid in a single night who was having threat by an Uxmal King to built it in a fortnight or else lose his life. Another legend says that there used to live a magician-god named Itzamna who single-handedly erected the pyramid in one night, using his might and magic. The pyramid is thus considered to be unique having rounded sides, its considerable height, steep slope, and unusual elliptical base.
 
Pyramid of the Magician Uxmal Mexico
 
Pyramid of the Magician Uxmal Mexico
 
This Pyramid stands to a height of 35 mts (115 ft) tall tends to be the biggest building in Uxmal. It also contains several ancient temples which were built before the pyramid itself was erected as the Mayan's could well construct new buildings on top of their older ones by gradually increasing the dimensions of the structure of the buildings. Thus, today the structure of the Pyramid, is the result of five nested temples which are listed as below:
 
Temple I: It is the oldest structure on the west side and base of the pyramid dating 6th century AD, and have inscriptions of lintel and radiocarbon on the door.
 
Temple II: This temple has an opening in the upper part of the eastern staircase from where on can enter into it as it is partially excavated and has coloums and roof comb that are visible througn a trench in the floor of Temple V above.
 
Temple III: This was built onto the rear of Temple II which is not visible from the outside but consists of a small central shrine and an antechamber.
 
Temple IV : It is one of the temples built at the top of the pyramid which can be entered from the west side and is full of richest decorations and also consists of 12 masks hung around its doorway believed to represent Chac, the god of rain, but now this has been disputed.
 
Temple V: It was said to be inspired by the Governor’s Palace which stood nearby, built at the top of the pyramid around A.D.1000. It is also known as The House of the Magician or Soothsayer, which stands as the final building phase of the pyramid dating around 9th century composed of three rooms and exhibits lattice ornamentation.
 
2)Temple Of The Inscriptions:
 
The 'Temple of the Inscriptions' is another example of Mayan temple built on top of a pyramid that was erected between A.D. 672 and 682. This temple is 20 mtr tall (66 ft) having four pillars decorated with the images of several adults who were carrying a deformed child having snake-like leg with six toes.
 
The 'Temple of the Inscriptions' is also called in Mayan as Bʼolon Yej Teʼ Naah (which means "House of the Nine Sharpened Spears"), is the largest of all Mesoamerican stepped pyramid structure located in the modern-day state of Chiapas, Mexico at the pre-Columbian Mayan civilization site of Palenque. The temple got its name from the five entrances infront of the building which had piers bearing both carved images and the hieroglyphic texts written in Maya script.
 
Temple of Inscriptions
 
Temple of Inscriptions
 
The temple got its name derived from the three tablets inside, as were marked with Mayan glyphs and date as far back as A.D. 692. One such is inscribed with the names of early Mayan Kings before King Pakal, and the other gives us information related to the life of Pakal himself. They also give exact information about the future like the year 4772. The temple consists of one of the most popular iconographic monuments of Mayan history where the lid of a stone coffin represents the Pakal falling into the world below at the time of his death.
 
The town of Palenque is the place where the Temple of the Inscriptions stands which was abandoned completely and forgotten until 1773(when it was discovered, lost and discovered again). The temples real name(Mayan dated) is not known to anyone, today all came to know it by its neighbouring village of Santo Domingo de Palenque.
 
3)The Great Plaza Temples of Tikal:
 
Tikal was one of the major metropolises of the Mayan civilization and one of the biggest in the world having 'The Great Plaza' which is the most important building and the ceremonial center of Tikal, Guatemala City and is a home to two ancient Mayan temples namely—Temple I, known as the "Temple of the Great Jaguar" and Temple II, known as the "Temple of the Mask".
 
There are many buildings in Tikal, but the Great Plaza Temples were built within a short time and they are as follows:
 
Temple of the Great Jaguar (Temple I): It was constructed by Ah Cacao, also known as Jasaw Chan K'awiil is located on the eastern side of the Great Plaza, around 150 ft high. The temple was erected about 700 AD by order of Ah Cacao, whose tomb was discovered inside as he left it incomplete to be completed by his son and people believed that it was his own final resting place. Thus, the people of Ancient Mayan consider Temple I, was the 'gateway to the underworld'. He was the one who was responsible for bringing Tikal back to its original position of affluence and power after a stagnant period of more than 150 years when no new buildings were build nor important events were recorded at that time.
 
When Ah Cacao breathed his last, his son got burried him with pottery, jade, and shells in his tomb and then built Temple I over it in his rememberance. The burial of Ah Cacao in Temple I, it stood as a break from the norm as per the traditions, the Kings of Tikal were supposed to be burried in the North Acropolis.  
 
Temple II: Ah Cacao completed the construction of the Temple II around 700 AD, in no time and it stands at the western end of the Great Plaza rising to a height of 120 ft. 
 
Temple of the Jaguar Priest (Temple III): This temple was constructed around 810 AD, rising to 180 ft located west of Temple 11. It exhibits an almost intact carved lintel, which depicts a personage clothed in jaguar skin.
 
Temple of the Double Headed Serpent (Temple IV): This temple was constructed around 470 AD by Yaxkin Caan Chac, rising to a height of 212 ft which stands as the highest structure in Tikal. 
 
Temple V: This temple was constructed around 750 AD, rising to a height of 190 ft located south of the Great Plaza. 
 
Temple of the Inscriptions (Temple VI): This temple was constructed around 766 AD, by Yaxkin Caan Chac, located south of the Mendez Causeway. But the inscription of this temple was done during the reign of Chitam and has roof comb containing the longest hieroglyphic recording to date. Stela 21 and Altar 9 are located at the base of the temple.
 
Temple of the Great Jaguar and Grand Plaza in Tikal Gautemala
 
Temple of the Great Jaguar and Grand Plaza in Tikal Gautemala
 
4)The Great Plaza of Tikal:
 
The Lost World: It is the Plaza of the Great Pyramid which is located southwest of the Great Plaza, and featured to be the largest pyramid in Tikal around 100 ft high and together with the structures to the west forming part of an astronomical complex as the Mayan's followed astronomy. "Great Masks" is the group situated towards the south of Great Pyramid. 
 
Plaza of the Seven Temples: This is located towards east of the Great Pyramid, which were formed by ceremonial structures of the Post Classic period. There is another palace seen with five doors, from the era of Pre Classic period, seen covered up and thus used as a foundation for another building built during the Post Classic period. This type of building on top of a structure of an old existing structure is a common practice of the Mayan civilization.
 
Image Courtesy:en.wikipedia.org,www.skyscrapercity.com,www.allposters.co.uk

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