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Clickable Uxmal site map with links to quality photos of major buildings. Includes informational text about archaeology and architecture
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Interactive map of Uxmal | Click on green arrows to view photos

A Note on the Architecture of Uxmal

At Uxmal, legible calendar dates and ruler names from inscriptions are scarce, but those that exist primarily involve Lord Chac, the ruler who presided over the brilliant but brief florescence of Uxmal around 895–908 AD and who created its greatest architectural triumphs, including the Nunnery Quadrangle,the Ballcourt, the Governor's Palace and the House of the Turtles.

In a ceremonial city where the religious and charismatic authority of its ruler was the primary source of power, the degree to which Lord Chac was able to integrate formalized, theatrical ritual into his city planning and architecture is remarkable.

For example, cosmological processes and solstice events are used in building placement to emphasize the ruler's shamanistic role as custodian of esoteric knowledge and power.

City planning and design framed ever-changing vistas for ritual processions and ceremonies, and the buildings themselves provided stages and platforms to support elaborate ceremony and dance. Acoustical effects were created to enhance public performances.

All of Lord Chac's buildings use rich iconography to message supernatural power, while the sheer grandiosity of his building campaign unmistakably conveys his personal power to summon and harness the enormous human labor needed to complete these projects.

1. Chase, Arlen F., et al. "States and Empires in Ancient Mesoamerica." Ancient Mesoamerica, vol. 20, no. 2, 2009, pp. 175–182. JSTOR, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

2. Dunning, Nicholas P., and Jeff Karl Kowalski. "Lords of the Hills: Classic Maya Settlement Patterns and Political Iconography in the Puuc Region, Mexico." Ancient Mesoamerica, vol. 5, no. 1, 1994, pp. 63–95. JSTOR, Accessed 17 Apr. 2021.

Pyramid of the Magician View from Top of El Adivino House of the Birds Looking Toward Governors Palace from Nunnery Northern Long Building Nunnery Quadrangle East Building Nunnery Quadrangle South Building Nunnery Quadrangle West Building Nunnery Quadrangle North Building Ballcourt House of the Turtles Back of Governor's Palace Governor's Palace Looking from Governor's Palace toward El Adivino Grand Pyramid View from Top of Grand Pyramid South Temple House of the Doves Uxmal View from Southwest