Saturday, September 8, 2012

Labná: A Puuc Region Site

Author's note: as has happened other times, I have run into conflicting resources. As mentioned in the About Me page, I shall be updating articles -- including this one -- as time goes on. In the northern Yucatan Peninsula is the site of Labná. It is part of the Puuc region, and is 1.75 miles from Xlapax and 19 miles Uxmal.

History
Labná dates from between 600 AD and 900 AD, possibly with its development period going from 600 AD to 750 AD. One theory exists that states it was a ceremonial center built around 850 AD. As with other sites in the Puuc region, Labná's growth and decline happened within 200 years. It is currently understood that Labná was less important than the site of Sayil was.

Set Up
The site of Labná now has an official entrance for tourists, to the north of the site. Near the entrance is a group of structures that archaeologists term the Palace Group. Southwest of the Palace Group are two structures. A sacbe (reconstructed) connects the Palace group to another group of structures that archaeologists call the Residential Group, in which the site's central plaza is located.

East of the Residential Group is a structure known as the East Temple. This structure has a sacbe leading back towards the Residential Group, towards a structure called El Mirador.

Around Labná are about 60 or 70 cisterns, known as chultunes (chultun in the singular). Visitors can still see some of the chultunes at the site. A theory exists that up to 3,000 people may have lived around Labná, as there are so many chultunes.

Several buildings in Labná are of note. These are El Palacio (The Palace), Arco de Labná and another structure known as El Mirador or El Castillo. The most well known of all these is the Arco de Labná.

El Palacio
Within the Residential Group is a structure known as El Palacio, located on a terrace. This is the first structure that is come across after entering the site. It has two levels and 67 rooms -- some on one level and others on the other level. It also has seven patios -- with some on one level and some on the other. Door frames of El Palacio are made up of engaged columns. The west corner has a serpent's head with a human head in the mouth -- thought a god emerging from the underworld.
Within El Palacio's east side, stones for grinding corn -- metates -- were discovered. This makes archaeologists think that the east side was the servants quarters, while the west side was for the elites.

Arco de Labná
Another feature in the Residential Group is a corbelled arch known as the Labná Arch -- also known as Arco de Labná or El Arco. Approximately 20 feet tall and 10 feet wide, the arch's east side constitutes one side of the site's central Plaza -- it's west side borders a patio. A depiction of an ancient Maya hut can be seen above the archway's two small doors on one side, and the other side is decorated with a checkerboard pattern and also with spirals. However, only a small part of its roofcomb exists. The Arch was part of a quadrangle but all the other structures have collapsed.

El Mirador
Heading east past the Arco de Labná is a poorly preserved pyramid known as El Mirador and El Castillo. Thought to be older than the othe buildings (dating from the Early Puuc) this pyramid is somewhat runinous but has a room at the top with a roofcomb.

References:
"Frommer's Mexico"; David Baird, Shane Christensen, Christine Delsol, Joy Hepp; 2011
Reed College: Labná

Reed College: Architecture, Restoration, and Imaging of the Maya Cities of Uxmal, Kabah, Sayil and Labná: Vaulted Archway page 1

Bluffton University: Labna, Mexico

University of Idaho: Labna
"The Ancient Maya"; Robert J. Sharer, Loa P. Traxler; 2006

"Lonely Planet Yucatan"; Ray Bartlett, Daniel C. Schechter; 2006

"Moon Yucatan Peninsula"; Liza Prado, Gary Chandler; 2009

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