Infobox World Heritage Site
WHS = Pre-Hispanic Town of Uxmal
State Party = MEX
Type = Cultural
Criteria = i, ii, iii
ID = 791
Region = Latin America and the Caribbean
Year = 1996
Session = 20th
Link = http://whc.unesco.org/en/list/791
Yucatec Maya: Óoxmáal) is a large pre-Columbianruined city of the Maya civilizationin the state of Yucatán, Mexico. It is 78 km south of Mérida, Yucatán, or 110 km from that city on Highway 261 towards Campeche, Campeche), 15 km south-southeast of the town of Muna.
Uxmal is pronounced "Oosh-mahl". The place name is Pre-Columbian and it is usually assumed to be an archaic
Maya languagephrase meaning "Built Three Times", although some scholars of the Maya language dispute this derivation.
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 here, therefore the city's dates of occupation are unknown and the estimated population (about 25,000 people) is at present only a very rough guess subject to change upon better data. Most of the architecture visible today was built between about 700 and 1100.
Maya chronicles say that Uxmal was founded about 500 by Hun Uitzil Chac Tutul Xiu. For generations Uxmal was ruled over by the Xiu family, was the most powerful site in western Yucatan, and for a while in alliance with
Chichen Itzadominated all of the northern Maya area. Sometime after about 1200 no new major construction seems to have been made at Uxmal, possibly related to the fall of Uxmal's ally Chichen Itza and the shift of power in Yucatan to Mayapan. The Xiu moved their capital to Maní, and the population of Uxmal declined.
Spanish conquest of Yucatán(in which the Xiu allied themselves with the Spanish), early colonial documents suggest that Uxmal was still an inhabited place of some importance into the 1550s, but no Spanish town was built here and Uxmal was soon after largely abandoned.
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
Palenquein elegance and beauty. The Puucstyle of Maya architecture predominates. Thanks to its good state of preservation, it is one of the few Maya cities where the casual visitor can get a good idea of how the entire ceremonial center looked in ancient times.
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
* The Adivino or
Pyramid of the Magician, a fine pyramid templeunusual in several ways. The layers of the step pyramid are oval, rather than the usual rectangular or square shape. 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. These include North Long Building, House of the Birds, House of the Turtles, Grand Pyramid, House of the Doves, and South Temple.
The majority of hieroglyphic inscriptions were on a series of stone stelae unusually grouped together on a single platform. The stelae depict the ancient rulers of the city, and they show signs that they were deliberately broken and toppled in antiquity; some were re-erected and repaired. A further suggestion of possible war or battle is found in the remains of a wall which encircled most of the central ceremonial center.
A large raised stone pedestrian causeway links Uxmal with the site of Kabah, some 18 km to the south. Archaeological research at the small island site of
Uaymil, located to the west on the Gulf coast, may have served as a portfor Uxmal and provided the site access to the circum-peninsular trade network.
Modern history of the ruins
The site, located not far from Mérida beside a road to Campeche, has attracted many visitors since the time of Mexico's independence. The first detailed account of the ruins was published by
Jean Frederic Waldeckin 1838. John Lloyd Stephensand Frederick Catherwoodmade two extended visits to Uxmal in the early 1840s, with architect/draftsman Catherwood reportedly making so many plans and drawings that they could be used to construct a duplicate of the ancient city (unfortunately most of the drawings are lost). Désiré Charnaytook a series of photographs of Uxmal in 1860. Some three years later Empress Carlota of Mexicovisited Uxmal; in preparation for her visit local authorities had some statues and architectural elements depicting phallic themes removed from the ancient façades. Sylvanus G. Morleymade a map of the site in 1909 which included some previously overlooked buildings. The Mexican government's first project to consolidate some of the structures from risk of collapse or further decay came in 1927. In 1930 Frans Blomled a Tulane Universityexpedition to the site which included making plaster casts of the façades of the "Nunnery Quadrangle"; using these casts a replica of the Quadrangle was constructed and displayed at the 1933 World's Fairin Chicago, Illinois. Unfortunately, the plaster replicas of the architecture were destroyed following the fair, but some of the plaster casts of Uxmal's monuments are still kept at Tulane's Middle American Research Institute. In 1936 a further Mexican government repair and consolidation program was begun under José Erosa Peniche.
Elizabeth II of the United Kingdomvisited on 27 February 1975for the inauguration of the site's "sound & light show"; when the presentation reached the point where the sound system played the Maya prayer to Chaac, a sudden torrential downpour fell upon the gathered dignitaries, despite the fact that it was the middle of the dry season.
Two hotels and a small museum have been built within the remains of the ancient city.
* [http://mayaruins.com/uxmal01.html Uxmal on mayaruins.com] Map of the site's central portion and various photographs.
* [http://www.thresholds.net/uxmal/ Uxmal Ruins] Site containing good photographs of Uxmal.
* [http://www.yucatantoday.com/destinations/eng-uxmal.htm Uxmal on yucatantoday.com] A Tourist's guide to the ruins.
* [http://www.locogringo.com/past_spotlights/nov2001.html Uxmal archaeological site, Yucatan Mexico] photo/article by Gary WaltenUxmal web site at Reed College. Over a thousand 19th - 21st century photographs of Uxmal. http://academic.reed.edu/uxmal/
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Look at other dictionaries:
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UXMAL — La cité maya d’Uxmal, dans la péninsule du Yucatacán au Mexique, est la plus importante des cités Puuc. Ce style, dont l’origine est à rechercher dans la région Chenes, se développe à partir de 750 après notre ère. Il se caractérise par les… … Encyclopédie Universelle
Uxmal — es un yacimiento arqueológico correspondiente a una ciudad maya amurallada. Su nombre significa tres veces construida u ocupada. Localizada en el estado mexicano de Yucatán a 78 kms al suroeste de la capital del estado, Mérida. Destaca su… … Enciclopedia Universal
Uxmal — [uʃ mal], Zeremonialzentrum und Stadt der Mayakultur in Nordwestyucatán, Mexiko, besiedelt im 7. 11. Jahrhundert. Es umfasst ein Areal von 600 m × 1 000 m mit mehreren Gebäudekomplexen (palastähnliche Gebäude und Pyramiden, Ballspielplatz), die … Universal-Lexikon
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Uxmal — [o͞oz mäl′] ruined Mayan city in the NW Yucatán Peninsula, Mexico … English World dictionary
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