Mexican researchers and specialists in the Maya area of Yucatan trace the origins of Puuc architecture, considered a symbol of identity for the ceremonial centers of Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil and Labna, where coatings have been identified in their main buildings with these characteristics.
Maria de Lourdes Toscano Hernandez, archaeologist of the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH), responsible for the works being carried out in the Maya city of Kabah, explained that the origins of Puuc architecture appear in the year 600 of our era and were reproduced on buildings until 1200. However, little is known about the forms and presence of the constructions in these cities before the 6th century A.D.
The Puuc architectural style is considered by some archaeologists as a stage in the architectural evolution of the Maya, which incorporated details of a “baroque” style, with ornaments of fretwork and masks on all the walls, a more sober style, where the buildings were built with low ceilings and spacious rooms.
On this subject, José Huchim Herrera, director of the archaeological zone of Uxmal, declared that, it is the style developed between the years 1,000 to 500 before Christ (BC).
It is a way of constructing and decorating ceremonial buildings or buildings dedicated to house the rulers of the time, characterized by the use of masks on the facades, fretwork and panels with hieroglyphs. The buildings, facades, columns and even the way the rooms were distributed formed a code, which narrates scenes of the daily life of the Mayan elite, he pointed out.
In his case, Toscano Hernandez argued that little is known about the origins of this change or architectural process and researchers try to find the ways in which these buildings were constructed and designed and their geometric shapes so characteristic of these Mayan ceremonial centers.
He added that Puuc architecture, the name that locates this group of Mayan cities in the center of the state of Yucatan, is not so strong in other important sites. In Chichen Itza few buildings have this presence, in the same way, it was not developed in other areas of the northern part of the peninsula.
That is why archaeologists are looking for information on the presence and architectural samples and to know from where the characteristics were taken to sculpt the fretwork and “faces” of the Mayan gods in their palaces and symbolic buildings.
Toscano Hernandez detailed that, among the own specialists there is an open discussion about the urbanism applied by the Mayas to construct their buildings. Some researchers believe that there is no urbanistic form, while others warn that there is, but not like western urbanism, not octagonal, but there is a construction pattern according to the sacred and religious geography, he said.
Archaeologists have determined that the Mayas built their buildings and ceremonial centers “according to how they thought the world was organized and they reproduced that pattern on earth,” he said.
He explained that, at the moment recovery tasks are being carried out in the city of Kabah, with the discovery of a construction of approximately 46 meters high that does not have these characteristics and observes an important influence of the constructions of the Petén, where a main building is grouped and two more secondary ones that form a religious pattern.
He exposed that, the advances in the recovery of the buildings in Kabah are important and it is foreseen to announce new zones of visit in the next months, once the works are concluded that are carried out to buildings that are intervened in this project.
Regarding the origins of the city of Kabah, this Mayan city has been located in the State Park since 1993, 105 kilometers south of the city of Merida. The oldest reference to this settlement appears in the Chilam Balam of Chumayel. According to Fray Estanislao Carrillo, priest of Ticul, in the first half of the 19th century, the name Kabáh comes from the Yucatecan Maya kab, mano and ah, which refers to the pronoun él.
According to historical data, the area was inhabited in the middle of the third century B.C. Much of the architecture in its buildings was done between the seventh and eleventh centuries. On one of the lintels above the door of a building, the date 879 is engraved, probably during the peak of the city. Kabah was abandoned, or at least no more ceremonial centers were built, several centuries before the Spanish conquistadors arrived in Yucatán.
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