Previous Topic Previous Next Topic Next
Maya Info

Other Xoc managed sites:

SUNDAY, DECEMBER 31, 2000. Breakfast was very good. As promised, immediately afterwards we headed into the site to spend the whole day exploring Tikal.

Our first target was the Grand Plaza area. Kathryn and Nick explained how the Grand Plaza had been transformed by Ah Cacao (Jasaw Chan K’awiil) after the 130 year Hiatus period. They explained that huge temples, nearly the height of Temple I, flanked the Plaza on the North Acropolis, and that these had been excavated by the Penn archaeologists to reveal the older structures beneath. We examined the huge masks, like those at Uaxactun (and probably their contemporaries), that were now exposed to view. The painted stucco burial chamber in a tunnel under the North Acropolis was not available to be seen.

In Nick and Kathryn’s book, they had a drawing of the stelae gallery that Ah Cacao had created in front of the North Acropolis. We took our time examining them, particularly Stela 10, dated (527 A.D.) showing the 19th ruler, Curl Head (Kalomte Balam) and Stela 5, dated showing the 27th ruler, Ruler B (Yik’in Chan K’awiil). (Interesting about the 13 tun periods…). Then we spotted the reproduction of the recently-discovered Stela 40. This stela was just discovered in 1996 and is in surprisingly good condition, despite its 468 A.D. date. It is done in a style very similar to the famous Stela 31, but has as its subject the apparent 12th ruler, K’an Chitam (or K’an Ak, Yellow Peccary). We took many, many pictures of Stela 40 and were inspired to consider working on the inscriptions of Tikal at the upcoming Long Workshop session in Austin.

We were finally dragged away from the North Acropolis and its stelae and taken into the Central Acropolis residential area. Kathryn showed us her favorite palace, with numerous inner chambers and a pleasant porch overlooking the Grand Plaza. It was just across the courtyard from the palace that Teobert Maler had selected as HIS personal favorite. When I had visited the Central Acropolis in the past, I had kicked myself that I had failed to bring along Linda Schele’s account from The Code of Kings. This time, I had it with me and had time to pause and re-read her story of her sense of wonder at being able to identify this long-dead king.

Descending from the Central Acropolis, we took the trail from Temple III into the triple ballcourts and the Plaza of the Seven Temples. We climbed up behind the Seven Temple structures to see the ominous carved cross-bones and eyeballs that remained visible behind one of the temples. Then we returned to the plaza floor. Some wanted to linger there awhile. I asked to be permitted to go on into the main Lost World plaza. I only made it as far as the next plaza over, behind the big pyramid, when Nick, Greg, Al, Warren, (and I can’t remember who else) intercepted me. They were heading out on a trail to see if they could locate the god houses and stucco masks in section 16. I tagged along, curious to discover if that was also the place where the Marcador had been found. Along the trail, Nick showed us a “god-house”. To our delight, one of the masks was still uncovered and had a protective roof overhead. We got some good pictures. According to Coe, this WAS where the Marcador had been found. On our way back, we took a different trail in the direction of Temple IV. We hoped to spot the Morley Causeway that was shown on our map, but it was not readily apparent.

Nick reminded us that we had a luncheon date, so we double-timed our pace to arrive at the Lodge as close to the appointed hour as possible. Nick nearly made it. We weren’t too far behind. Along the way, we had spotted an intriguing open tunnel into the lower section of the back of the North Acropolis. That would bear further investigation when we had more time. After lunch, we visited the small ceramics museum. So many wonderful things are displayed there – the Jaguar Paw pot, the carved bones and pots from Ah Cacao’s burial, the Teo-style pots, the hummingbird cup, and the re-creation of Ah Cacao’s burial itself. Then, over on the other side, off to itself, is spectacular Stela 31, carved with Teotihuacan-style figures on three sides and a lengthy and intricate glyphic text on the back. I had spent my 50th birthday camped out behind Stela 31, dodging drips from the leaky museum roof, working through the text, glyph by glyph. With greater understanding now, it is still a wonder. This is one we will tackle in Austin, for sure. We left the museum just before closing after making a few purchases, including some small reproduction ceramic heads that were quite nice.

Some of us then regrouped and headed out to see the Temple of the Inscriptions (Temple VI) before it got too dark. The Temple of the Inscriptions was only “found” in 1954 by the fellow who owned the Jungle Lodge while he was hiking in the jungle. It is so named because of the lengthy glyphic text that decorates the back and sides of the huge roof comb. Though quite eroded now, with binoculars we were able to make out quite a number of individual glyphs. I’ll see if I can find a drawing of the text somewhere. This was built by Ruler B (Yik’in Chan K’awiil) and was dedicated in 766 A.D. ( Stela 21 and accompanying Altar 9 are positioned at the base of the stairs. Though the stela was badly damaged, enough of the text remained to work out a date – 736 A.D. (

Back up the Mendez Causeway, we visited Group G, a nice residential group of buildings that had had some interesting graffitti depicting a heart extraction. That panel was looted, however. When I visited in January, we were allowed to visit tunnel excavations in a fairly large mound to one side of the compound where Hector Escobedo was working. The white walls had been painted with red handprints. Above the central room was a quadrapartite design. This section is not as heavily visited by tourists and there were lots of interesting birds there that we watched until almost park closing time. When we returned to the entrance, I went to the little near-by market area to try to fit in some shopping. But it was too dark to see anything.

Before dinner, we gathered in Nick and Kathryn’s room for a rather merry early New Year’s Eve celebration. Thanks to Al and Marco Antonio’s careful selections, we had no shortage of excellent tequila and rum. It was all quite festive. At dinner, our conversations were nearly drowned out by the (even drunker) people at the next table. Since many of us were planning to get up to greet the dawn, we broke up the party early. Poor Bea was not feeling well at all.