THE ANCIENT MAYAN TEMPLES

Posted in North America | August 2, 2010 | 0 Comments


The Maya Civilization is till date counted as one of the great Pre-Columbian civilizations. Their lands extended through the whole of the northern Central America region, which would include present-day Guatemala, El Salvador, and parts of Mexico, Belize and Honduras.

During the period from 250 – 900 AD, most of the Mayan cities had reached what could have been dubbed as the peak of their urbanism and was characterized by large scale constructions that had been conducted.

Almost every important Mayan city was seen to have a temple built in it; which throws light on the fact that the ancient Mayan temples had an integral role to play in the Mayan culture.

The reasons for the decline of Mayan centers are not well known, but most of them withdrew and were abandoned.

Chichen Itza and the Maya are synonymous. But other than the temple there, there are a number of Mayan temples that are considered sacrosanct by archaeologists who are working on these sites. Here are some of them.

Lamanai

This temple is located in modern day Belize and was once upon a time, a considerably sized Mayan city. The ruins of the temple here at Lamanai have not been uncovered fully. There is a 33 meter tall temple that has been uncovered and was probably still occupied by the Maya when the Spanish took over. Lamanai in Maya would mean ‘submerged crocodile’. It is one of those rare Mayan sites that have been able to retain its original name.

Coba

This was a rather large ancient Maya city; and was known to inhabit around 50,000 people at some time in history. Most of the monuments in this city were built between the 500 to 900 AD period. Coba is home to a number of pyramids; and the tallest of them – the Nohoch Mul Pyramid – stands at around 42 meters in height. Restoration work is still underway.

Caracol

This is perhaps the largest Maya site in the whole of Belize. It was once the largest Maya cities and covered an area of about 65 square meters. When it was at its peak, during the 650 AD period, it had an estimated population that ran up to numbers like 150,000. This number is almost twice the number of people who live in present day Belize. The Canaa Pyramid at Caracol is still the tallest structure built by men in Belize; and reaches a daunting 43 meters.

Copan

Copan was a relatively smaller city of the Maya and was best known for its portrait stelae series. The sculptured decorations that adorn this city make for some of the best art that has survived since the time of ancient Mesoamerica. The highest point that you’d see in Copan is the Temple 16, which rises to a staggering 30 meters (100 feet) above the Great Plaza of the city.

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