Such kingdoms were usually no more than a capital city with its neighborhood and several lesser towns, although there were greater kingdoms, which controlled larger territories and extended patronage over smaller polities. Each kingdom had a name that did not necessarily correspond to any locality within its territory. Its identity was that of a political unit associated with a particular ruling dynasty. HP Compaq 6735B Battery
For instance, the archaeological site ofNaranjo was the capital of the kingdom of Saal. The land (chan ch’e’n) of the kingdom and its capital were called Wakab’nal or Maxam and were part of a larger geographical entity known as Huk Tsuk. Interestingly, despite constant warfare and eventual shifts in regional power, HP Compaq HSTNN-105C Battery
most kingdoms never disappeared from the political landscape until the collapse of the whole system in the 9th century AD. In this respect, Classic Maya kingdoms are highly similar to late Post Classic polities encountered by the Spaniards in Yucatán and Central Mexico: some polities could be subordinated to hegemonic rulers through conquests or dynastic unions and yet even then they persisted as distinct entities. HP Compaq HSTNN-C12C Battery
Mayanists have been increasingly accepting a "court paradigm" of Classic Maya societies which puts the emphasis on the centrality of the royal household and especially the person of the king. This approach focuses on Maya monumental spaces as the embodiment of the diverse activities of the royal household. It considers the role of places and spaces (including dwellings of royalty and nobles, HP Compaq HSTNN-C66C Battery
throne rooms, temples, halls and plazas for public ceremonies) in establishing power and social hierarchy, and also in projecting aesthetic and moral values to define the wider social realm.
Spanish sources invariably describe even the largest Maya settlements as dispersed collections of dwellings grouped around the temples and palaces of the ruling dynasty and lesser nobles. HP Compaq HSTNN-C66C-4 Battery
None of the Classic Maya cities shows evidence of economic specialization and commerce of the scale of Mexican Tenochtitlan. Instead, Maya cities could be seen as enormous royal households, the locales of the administrative and ritual activities of the royal court. They were the places where privileged nobles could approach the holy ruler, where aesthetic values of the high culture were formulated and disseminated and where aesthetic items were consumed. HP Compaq HSTNN-C66C-5 Battery
They were the self-proclaimed centers and the sources of social, moral, and cosmic order. The fall of a royal court as in the well-documented cases of Piedras Negras or Copan would cause the inevitable "death" of the associated settlement.
Maya art of their Classic Era (c. 250 to 900 CE) is of a high level of aesthetic and artisanal sophistication. HP Compaq HSTNN-C67C Battery
The carvings and the reliefs made of stucco at Palenque and the statuary of Copán, show a grace and accurate observation of the human form that reminded early archaeologists of Classical civilizations of the Old World, hence the name bestowed on this era. We have only hints of the advanced painting of the classic Maya; HP Compaq HSTNN-C67C-4 Battery
mostly what has survived arefunerary pottery and other Maya ceramics, and a building at Bonampak holds ancient murals that survived by chance. A beautiful turquoise color ('Maya Blue') survived through the centuries due to its unique chemical characteristics. Late Preclassic murals of great artistic and iconographic perfection have been recently discovered at San Bartolo. HP Compaq HSTNN-C67C-5 Battery
With the decipherment of the Maya script it was discovered that the Maya were one of the few civilizations where artists attached their name to their work.
Maya architecture spans many thousands of years; yet, often the most dramatic and easily recognizable as Maya are the stepped pyramids from the Terminal Pre-classic period and beyond. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB05 Battery
There are also cave sites that are important to the Maya. These cave sites include Jolja Cave, the cave site at Naj Tunich, theCandelaria Caves, and the Cave of the Witch. There are also cave-origin myths among the Maya. Some cave sites are still used by the modern Maya in the Chiapas highlands. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB06 Battery
It has been suggested[who?] that temples and pyramids were remodeled and rebuilt every fifty-two years in synchrony with the Maya Long Count Calendar. It appears now that the rebuilding process was often instigated by a new ruler or for political matters, as opposed to matching the calendar cycle. However, the process of rebuilding on top of old structures is indeed a common one. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB0E Battery
Most notably, the North Acropolis at Tikal seems to be the sum total of 1,500 years of architectural modifications. In Tikal, Yaxha and Ixlu there were twin pyramid complexes. There were nine in Tikal and one each in Yaxha and Ixlu; at Tikal they were used to commemorate the end of a 20-year k'atun cycle. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB11 Battery
Through observation of the numerous consistent elements and stylistic distinctions, remnants of Maya architecture have become an important key to understanding the evolution of their ancient civilization.
As Maya cities spread throughout the varied geography of Mesoamerica, site planning appears to have been minimal. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB16 Battery
Maya architecture tended to integrate a great degree of natural features, and their cities were built somewhat haphazardly as dictated by the topography of each independent location. For instance, some cities on the flat limestoneplains of the northern Yucatán grew into great sprawling municipalities, while others built in the hills of Usumacintautilized the natural loft of the topography to raise their towers and temples to impressive heights. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB28 Battery
However, some degree of order, as required in any large city, still prevailed.
Classic Era Maya urban design could easily be described as the division of space by great monuments and causeways. Open public plazas were the gathering places for people and the focus of urban design, while interior space was entirely secondary. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB29 Battery
Only in the Late Post-Classic era did the great Maya cities develop into more fortress-like defensive structures that lacked, for the most part, the large and numerous plazas of the Classic.
At the onset of large-scale construction during the Classic Era, a predetermined axis was typically established in a cardinal direction. HP Compaq HSTNN-DB67 Battery
Depending on the location of natural resources such as fresh-water wells, or cenotes, the city grew by using sacbeob (limed causeways or "white roads") to connect great plazas with the numerous platforms that created the sub-structure for nearly all Maya buildings. As more structures were added and existing structures re-built or remodeled, HP Compaq HSTNN-FB05 Battery
the great Maya cities seemed to take on an almost random identity that contrasted sharply with other great Mesoamerican cities such as Teotihuacan and its rigid grid-like construction.
At the heart of the Maya city were large plazas surrounded by the most important governmental and religious buildings, such as the royal acropolis, great pyramid temples and occasionally ball-courts. HP Compaq HSTNN-FB18 Battery
Though city layouts evolved as nature dictated, careful attention was placed on the directional orientation of temples and observatories so that they were constructed in accordance with Maya interpretation of the orbits of the heavenly bodies. Immediately outside of this ritual center were the structures of lesser nobles, smaller temples, and individual shrines; HP Compaq HSTNN-FB51 Battery
the less sacred and less important structures had a greater degree of privacy. Outside of the constantly evolving urban core were the less permanent and more modest homes of the common people.
A surprising aspect of the great Maya structures is their lack of many advanced technologies seemingly necessary for such constructions. HP Compaq HSTNN-FB52 Battery
Lacking draft animals necessary for wheel-based modes of transportation, metal tools and even pulleys, Maya architecture required abundant manpower. Yet, beyond this enormous requirement, the remaining materials seem to have been readily available. All stone for Maya structures appears to have been taken from local quarries. HP Compaq HSTNN-I04C Battery
They most often used limestone which remained pliable enough to be worked with stone tools while being quarried and only hardened once removed from its bed. In addition to the structural use of limestone, much of their mortar consisted of crushed, burnt and mixed limestone that mimicked the properties of cement and was used as widely for stucco finishing as it was for mortar. HP Compaq HSTNN-I12C Battery
Later improvements in quarrying techniques reduced the necessity for this limestone-stucco as the stones began to fit quite perfectly, yet it remained a crucial element in some post and lintel roofs. In the case of the common Maya houses, wooden poles, adobe and thatch were the primary materials; however, instances of what appear to be common houses of limestone have been discovered as well. HP Compaq HSTNN-I39C Battery
Also notable throughout Maya architecture is the corbel arch (also known as a "false arch"), which allowed for more open-aired entrances. The corbelled arch improved upon pier/post and lintel doorways by directing the weight off of the lintel and onto the supporting posts.
Ceremonial platforms were commonly limestone platforms of typically less than four meters in height where public ceremonies and religious rites were performed. HP Compaq HSTNN-I40C Battery
Constructed in the fashion of a typical foundation platform, these were often accented by carved figures, altars and perhaps tzompantli, a stake used to display the heads of victims or defeated Mesoamerican ballgame opponents.
Palaces were large and often highly decorated, and usually sat close to the center of a city and housed the population's elite. HP Compaq HSTNN-I44C Battery
Any exceedingly large royal palace, or one consisting of many chambers on different levels might be referred to as an acropolis. However, often these were one-story and consisted of many small chambers and typically at least one interior courtyard; these structures appear to take into account the needed functionality required of a residence, as well as the decoration required for their inhabitants stature. HP Compaq HSTNN-I44C-A Battery