Pyramid of the Magician

My first day at Uxmal was employed in making a rough survey of the land occupied by the ruins.

One of the most important of these is that known as the Pyramid of the Dwarf (or Pyramid of the Magician). 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.

The steps leading up to the summit are broad, and must have formed an imposing approach, but in consequence of the angle of the slope they are necessarily steep, and are placed so close together that there is barely sufficient width for the foot to rest. At the base of the pyramid there is an open court, which I observed to be similar in shape to one adjoining the base of an altar built by the Quichés at Utatlan, but it was larger in extent. The court leads to the entrance of the Casa de las Monjas.

This building may be considered to be the result of the greatest powers of sculpture and ornamentation that the Indians possessed, and judging from the condition of many of its chambers, it is probably one of the latest of their works. It is nearly quadrangular, and encloses an area of over six thousand square yards.

Published by Brett Porter

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