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  • Altar 3
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  • Stela 1
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  • Stela 2
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  • Stela 3
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  • Stela 4
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  • Stela 5
Site name: Ixkun Site volume and author reference
Location and Access
Principal Investigations
Notes on the Ruins
References Cited

LOCATION AND ACCESS Ixkun lies some 9 km north of Dolores, a long-established town in southeastern Peten. The trail from Dolores to the ruins threads through narrow valleys among karst hills for nearly 5 km until it crosses a saddle between hills; thereafter it passes through a basin of flat terrain surrounded by hills. Near the middle of this basin stands the isolated hill that is seen on the site plan as the locus of Structures 26 to 31.

PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATIONS AT THE SITE The first published notice of the site resulted from the visit of Colonel Modesto Mendez, the Corregidor of Peten, accompanied by the artist Eusebio Lara in 1852. Copies of most of Lara's drawings were published in a German journal in the following year (Ritter 1853), among them drawings from the sites "Yxkun" and "Yxtutz." Blom (1940) correctly identified numbers 10 and 11 of those drawings as Ixkun Stelae 1 and 4, although he was mistaken in seeing number 12 as Stela 5. Lara's drawing of Stela 5 is, however, to be found among the set of pen and wash drawings - probably Lara's originals - that are in the library of the Society of Antiquaries of London.

Alfred Maudslay, who had been told of the site in Flores, succeeded in finding it in 1887. He then spent three weeks clearing the site, mapping it, and making a mold of Stela 1; he also cleared rubble from the top of Structure 6, so as to establish the plan of the building. Maudslay published Stela 1 and his plan of the site in his Biologia (Maudslay 1889-1902,vol. 2, pIs. 67-69) and in A Glimpse at Guatemala (Maudslay and Maudslay 1899, pp. 174-176).

In April 1914, Sylvanus G. Morley and HerbertJ. Spinden spent three days at Ixkun, photographing the stelae and taking notes on the inscriptions.

My own visits to the site were made in 1971, 1972, and 1978, the first in the company of Eric von Euw, the second prompted by a rumor of damage done by looters to Stela 5. The rumor proved to be only too true: The stela had been wrecked no more than three weeks earlier.

NOTES ON THE RUINS The heart of this ceremonial center consists of two plazas oriented some 10 degrees west of north. The plaza farther to the north is dominated by Structures 3 and 6, which measure 15 m and 11 m high respectively. In this plaza, in addition to the carved stelae described in this volume, there are the standing Stela 10, a poorly trimmed shaft 0.60 m wide, 0.38 m thick, and now only 0.90 m high, and, lying broken on the ground, the remains of Stela 11, also apparently uncarved. In the area between the two plazas the plain Stela 8 still stands, 2.75 m high, 2.58 m wide, and 0.42 m thick.

The larger, southern plaza is defined on its north side by a ball court, and on its west by an acropolis containing an elevated court. This acropolis was evidently raised upon a natural eminence, as attested by rock outcroppings on its northern edge. Structures 20 and 21 rise about 10 m above plaza level.

From this central area two causeways run in directions some 20 degrees east of north and 10 degrees west of south. Both causeways are edged with low masonry walls. The southern causeway terminates at a platform 6 m high built against the foot of a hill. Upon this platform stood Stela 5; at the foot of the platform is an oval altar 1.17 m by 0.98 m across, 0.24 m in thickness. On the north side of the altar can be seen the stump and fragments of a stela which show faint signs of carving.

Up the hill, 41 m above this altar, is a terrace, upon which stands a small acropolis, its floor about 6 m above the terrace. The principal edifice, Structure 29, rising 6 m from the floor of the acropolis, has a doorway 1.3 m wide spanned by a lintel which is still in place, although the building is otherwise in ruins. Stela 7, still standing in front of it though inclined sharply forward, is an unsculptured shaft of stone very similar to that of Stela 5. It is 0.52 m wide, 0.18 m thick, with 1.6 m of exposed height. The associated altar is an oval 1.05 m by 0.97 m across. A cave on the west side of the hill (marked on the plan) penetrates some way into the hill and contains the remains of ancient masonry and potsherds, which were not closely examined or recorded.

The arroyo that flows into the southeast corner of the area covered by the site plan is said to fail very seldom, although during the dry season the entire flow sinks into the stream bed as it approaches the hill mentioned above and seems to pass beneath it. At the back of the nearby cave water can be drawn, coming presumably from this source, and on the opposite side of the hill there are two springs, one of them enlarged in antiquity into a rectangular pool 1.9 m by 1.3 m with a border of cut stone. During the rainy season the area on either side of the arroyo near Structures 32 and 33 is liable to flooding.

NOTES ON THE PLAN OF THE SITE The survey from which the site plan is drawn was begun by von Euw in 1971,

and finished by Graham in 1978. Structure 34, missed by us, is copied from Maudslay's plan, which can now be appreciated for its impressive completeness and accuracy. The absence of the ball court from his plan as reproduced in the Biologia, and from Morley's version (1937-38, vol. 5, pI. 196) which was based upon it, may be attributed to an error by Maudslay in copying from his original, as reproduced inA Glimpse at Guatemala (p. 174). The monument that Morley tentatively labeled Y on his plan owes its origin to a smudge on the lithographic plate in the Biologia.

ISTER OF INSCRIPTIONS AT IXKUN Stelae 1-5 Altar of Stela 3



1940 "Coronel Modesto Mendez," Anales de la Sociedad de Geografia e Historia de

Guatemala, vol. 16, pp. 167-179. Guatemala City.


1889-1902 Biologia Centrali-Americana: Archaeology, 5 vols. London.


1899 A Glimpse at Guatemala. London.


1937-38 The Inscriptions of Peten. Carnegie Institution of Washington, Publication

437,5 vols. Washington, D.C.


1853 "Ueber neue Entdeckungen und Beobachtungen in Guatemala und Yuca-

tan," Zeitschrift, Gesellschaft fUr Erdkunde zu Berlin, vol. 1, pp. 161-193. Berlin.



SITE VOL/Part Monument Side Page Pub.year Notes Peobody Number
IXKUN 2.3 Map 133 1980
IXKUN 2.3 Map of Ruins 134 1980
IXKUN 2.3 Stela 1 front 139 1980 2004.
IXKUN 2.3 Stela 2 front 141 1980 2004.
IXKUN 2.3 Stela 3 front 143 1980 2004.
IXKUN 2.3 Altar of Stela 3 145 1980 20004.
IXKUN 2.3 Stela 4 front 147 1980 2004.
IXKUN 2.3 Stela 5 front 149 1980 2004.


SITE (by Vol) VOL/Part Author(s)
IXKUN 2.3 Ian Graham, Vol. 2.3, 1980