Modern history of the ruins

It is considered that the ruins of Uxmal are, in extent and construction, the most important in Yucatan, and therefore, excepting in certain particulars, those at Palenque, the most remarkable in Central America and Mexico.

The ground occupied by them is in length about six hundred yards. The width is slightly more than five hundred yards. Consequently the area within which Uxmal is contained, may be approximately estimated as being sixty acres. It therefore exceeds by twenty acres the space covered by the mounds of Palenque. The buildings are irregularly placed. The Casa del Gobernador (House of the Governor) with its adjacent pyramids form the principal group towards the south. The Casa de las Monjas (House of the Nuns) is situated towards the north. These are the two great structures upon which the other temples and mounds seem chiefly to depend. There are two smaller edifices called respectively, the Casa de las Palomas (House of the Pigeons) and the Casa de las Tortugas (House of the Turtles). There is also a detached pyramid with a ruined temple upon its summit, which has been given the name of the House of the Old Woman.

“Looking at these ruins as a group, they appear to have consisted of quadrangular residences with pyramidal mounds attached to them, raised for the purpose of obtaining lofty sites for the altars of the Indian gods.”

One of the most important of these is that known as the Pyramid of the Dwarf. I examined it with particular attention for the purpose of studying the character of a series of small stone vaults or cells placed round its base, which were similar in size and design to those that I had seen on the lower slopes of the Kue near the coast above Campeachy. Many of these cells were sufficiently perfect to enable their dimensions and shape to be verified. It seemed evident that they must have been made for sepulchral purposes. If this conclusion is correct it is probable that they were the burial places for the ashes of the caciques who ruled over this part of Yucatan.

Upon an investigation of the outer parts of the pyramid, it is to be observed that it was not only carefully constructed, but its plan must have been accurately drawn and the relative mathematical measurements calculated with reference to the space that was required for the temple. The magnitude of the base could not be determined, on account of the quantities of fallen stones and other débris. In 1841, Mr. Stephens considered that it was two hundred and thirty-five feet long by one hundred and fifty-five feet wide. The perpendicular height to the platform was estimated to be eighty-eight feet.

Published by Brett Porter

Comms. guy with a passion for public policy and responsible corporate governance. Conservation advocate. Plant person.