Christopher Shaw, describing how the river approach to Yaxchilan might have appeared to an 8th century visitor, writes:
"The temples and palaces of Yaxchilan's ceremonial center climbed the east slopes of the mountain that dominated the peninsula. We watched for temples, but the forest was thick, and the approach took longer than I remembered, stretching out over two or three miles. In the eighth century you would have seen the raw terra-cotta reds, ochers, and greenish-blues of the pyramids through the trees, especially those of structure 33, and structures 40 and 41 on their solitary summit, the enormous braziers billowing black clouds of copal, sacrifice victims hanging from the roof combs. Ranks of stelas carved with warriors in battle gear lined the bank. On ceremonial occasions you would have heard drums, conch trumpets, ocarinas."
Christopher Shaw, Sacred Monkey River: A Canoe Trip with the Gods, p. 266