Archaeological Sites Background Bibliography
Map: Yucatan peninsula in Central America

Yucatan peninsula with photo links to 28 ancient Maya ruins


Early Classic (200 - 600 A.D.): Because the Maya tended to site new buildings on top of earlier buildings, archaeological excavation almost always eventially arrives at Pre-Classic or Early Classic construction layers. Examples are Uaxactun is an Pre-Classic site, Balamku Structure 1 has elaborate magnificent stucco facades dating to the Early Classic (550-650 AD), Kohunlich temple flanked by huge humanized stucco masks built around 500 A.D.

"Old Kingdom" Classic sites are located in the south and include Copan and its vassel state Quirigua, Calakmul, Tikal, Palenque, and Yaxchilan with its subsidiary Bonampak.

Rio Bec sites are characterized by false temples and fake stairways imitating on a small scale the giant Old Kingdom roof-comb temples like Tikal to the south. Rio Bec sites are later than the Classic sites and include Rio Bec, Xpujil, and Becan. Ek Balam was built in Rio Bec style, even though it is geographically distant. Some have speculated that the ruler who constructed the Acropolis there was a foreigner and wanted to explicitly connect with his home further south.

Chennes sites, characterized by low Indian Jones style "Monster Mouth" temples, include Chicanna, Hochob, Hormiguero and Dzibilnocac.

Puuc sites are further to the north and are later. Uxmal is a quintessential Puuc site and is surrounded by the smaller nearby sites of Sayil, Kabah, Labna, Xlapak, Chacmultun. Edzna is also sometimes classified as a Puuc site. Parts of Chichen Itza are also considered to be Puuc.

Late Classic sites include Xunantunich frieze was constructed about 800 AD

Post Classic:Izamal was almost continuously occupied from the pre-classic until the Spanish conquest. Lamanai whose long life was probably because it sat on a major trade route and had important economic influence survived into the Post Classic.

Ek Balam Yaxchilan Uaxactun Palenque Balamku Hormiguero Hochob Tikal Lamanai Xunantunich Calakmul Kohunlich Xpujil Chicanna Becan Dzibilnocac Edzna Chacmultun Labna Sayil Uxmal Izamal Bonampak Copan Kabah Quirigua Rio Bec Xlapak