Friday, December 28, 2012

Sayil -- A Puuc Region Site

Author's note: The two maps I have found on Sayil do not match each other. For information on the Puuc region's style of architecture, go here.

Sayil is a site located in the Puuc region, in the modern Mexican state of Yucatán, whose life as a center of activity occurred during the Terminal Classic. Notable ones include El Palacio, El Mirador, Temple of the Hieroglyphic Lintel, Stela 9, Grupo Sur and a ballcourt.

According to Mesoamerican Elites: An Archaeological Assessment, Sayil is a " site and very little architecture is buried beneath later constructions." Sayil's development, height and decline occurred during the Terminal Classic Period -- a time in which the Classic Period turned into the Postclassic Period --, like other (not so far away) Puuc region sites such as Kabah, Labná and Uxmal. Its abandonment occurred at least by 1000 AD.

What has helped archaeologists to figure out when to place Sayil? Various pieces of archeological evidence for this short history include: a lintel at El Palacio dating to 730 AD; ceramic ware dating from 750 AD to 950 AD; and a stela whose calendar inscription translates to 810 AD.

El Palacio
Sometimes likened to Early Greek architecture or the the Minoan palace of Crete, El Palacio (also called the Great Palace) is a structure whose construction is thought to have occurred in several stages through the 700s AD. It has three tiers, a central staircase and a facade, which includes engaged (false) columns, regular columns and images of Chac (God B) and the  Diving God. The rooms contained within El Palacio number over 90. Also included in El Palacio is a basin meant to catch rain and send it to a chultun.  At the base of El Palacio's steps, a sacbé runs north-south to a ballcourt.

El Mirador
Heading south along the sacbé from El Palacio, after around 1,312.34 feet (400 meters) one reaches the structure called the Watchtower, Pyramid Temple, or El Mirador (or just Mirador.) This structure's notable features include its slotted roofcomb, its five rooms and the chultunes (cisterns located underground -- having been carved out of rock -- and plastered insode) found near it.

Like the chultunes, archaeologists have uncovered something else of interest near El Mirador. Evidence has been found that may indicate a market used to be held near it.

Temple of the Hieroglyphic Lintel
This structure is west of Mirador. The name of this structure gives an idea is to what it looks like: the doorways have inscriptions -- ones that are

Grupo Sur
Also known as Palacio Sur, this building originally contained 18 rooms. Several rooms are notably large.

 East of the Gurpo Sur is the ballcourt of Sayil. Looking at a map from Reed College, it appears that the ballcourt was of the I-shaped variety. This variety of ballcourt includes two parallel, rectangular structures standing on either side of the playing field.

Stela 9
South on a path from El Mirador is stela 9. This stela portrays what is currently understood to be an obscene depiction of a warrior. It is possible that it was connected to a fertility cult.

Consideration: Hours  
According to Yucatan & Mayan Mexico, Sayil is open from 8AM to 5PM, and costs the equivalent of $3 in US currency. Not far from the entrance to the site is a display of stelae.

"Yucatan & Mayan Mexico"; Nick Rider; 2005

"Frommer's Cancun, Cozumel and the Yucatan 2010"; David Baird; 2009

"Yucatán"; Ray Bartlett, Daniel C Schecter; 2006

"Mesoamerican Elites: An Archaeological Assessment"; Diane Z. Chase, Arlen Frank Chase; 2003

"The Ancient Maya", 6th Edition; Robert J. Sharer, Loa P. Traxler; 2006

Reed College: Sayil

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