The Acropolis (Structure 1) was Ek Balam's royal palace during the Terminal Classic period

Structure 1 was Ek Balam's Royal Palace during the Terminal Classic period.

The Acropolis is a fascinating building complex with complicated overlapping of structures that served as Ek Balam's Royal Palace during the Terminal Classic Period. When we visited in 2004, only about half the extensions to the Acropolis had been explored, yet the body of glyphic texts uncovered here rivals any found in northern Yucatán.

In this photo, we approach the Acropolis from the Ballcourt area to the south. Only Ukit Kan Le'k Tok's White House of Learning is visible above the trees.

East Side of the Acropolis

As we approach closer, the complicated structures of the eastern side of the Acropolis come into view.

As a way of instantiating history and harnessing the power of ancestors, the Maya have long had a practice of burying their dead in the foundations of their homes and palaces. This can be seen in the layered North Acropolis at Tikal, as well as in the much later Ek Balam Acropolis.

With or without burials, rooms associated with high status individuals were sometimes ceremonially closed — filled with rubble and sealed with an inscribed capstone mentioning Long Count dates, historical events, and names of participants. Closed rooms could even be re-entered at a later date to add additional lines of hieroglyphic text.

The definitive source of informations about these inscriptions on capstones as well as murals is Alfonso Lacadena García-Gallo, "The Glyphic Corpus from Ek' Balam, Yucatán, México", FAMSI 2004. Here you will find a detailed diagram of the Acropolis with numbered rooms, glyph drawings and translations of all painted capstones and hieroglyphic murals so far discovered, an examination of the Mural of the 96 Glyphs and its implications for a dynastic history of Ek Balam, and more.

East Side of Acropolis Showing Upper Rooms and Columns where Mural of 96 Glyphs was found.

The Mural of the 96 Glyphs was found in Room 29-sub of the Acropolis. Room 27-sub is the white building directly underneath the columns in this photo.

With Long Count dates of April 7 and May 26, 770 A.D., these inscriptions contain the two earliest dates found at Ek Balam as well as the first to mention Ukit Kan Le'k Tok' at the site.

East front of Acropolis Showing Upper Stories where capstone paintings with dates were found.

The Mural of the 96 Glyphs is the first dated text from Ek’ Balam, and the first to mention king Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’.

East front of Acropolis Showing Upper Stories

The west side of the Acropolis with the hieroglyphic serpents, central stairway, with the White House of Reading/Learning on the fourth Level.

East front of Acropolis Showing Upper Stories and Level 4 with Chenes burial temple.

Dynastic founder Ukit Kan Le'k Tok's White House of Reading or Learning with its Chenes-style Monster Mouth temple, as viewed from ground level.

Palapa awnings were added to protect the beautiful stucco work decorating the surface of this building after the stuccos were uncovered in almost pristine conditions in 1998-2000. The stuccos were discovered as part of the Ek Balam Archaeological Project led by Castillo Borges and Leticia Vargas.