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  • Altar 1
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  • Lintel 1
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  • Sculpture 1
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  • Stela 1
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  • Stela 32
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Site name: Naranjo Site volume and author reference
Location and Access
Principal Investigations
Notes on the Ruins
References Cited
 

LOCATION AND ACCESS The setting of the ruins is a relatively fIat area bordered on three sides by hills and on the fourth by a large bajo. Some of this area is truly flat; but there are a number of hillocks, some of which have been transformed into temple substructures, and there are stretches of very broken terrain, heaped with fractured rock. The range of hills to the north of the site forms part of the great escarpment or arch that runs halfway across Peten, less prominent here than elsewhere. Although Morley places Naranjo in the Holmul Valley, it now appears that land south of the escarpment drains into the Belize River.

The bajo which has formed at the foot of this escarpment is an area of seasonal flooding and supports tangled vegetation and scattered larger trees; at the eastern extremity, however, close to the ruins, the swamp is perennial and covered with reeds. On the 1: 125,000 map reproduced on this page, and on the 1:2,000 site plan, the bajo is indicated by a horizontal hatching of broken lines and the swamp by a wrinkle pattern. The darker area within the swamp on this plan represents a curious feature: a sharply defined, straight swath about 15 meters wide and perhaps 250 meters long in which only low reeds and grasses grow. This may be an area that was dredged by the ancient Maya as a measure to improve their water supply. Another aguada, a much smaller one which usually dries up before the end of March, is marked on the plan north of Structure B-13. A never-failing source of excellent water is the little spring at Manantial, two kilometers from the ruins along the track to Melchor de Mencos.

In the late 1950s a logging road was driven through the forest from Fallabon (soon to be renamed Ciudad Melchor de Mencos) to the ruins of Naranjo and beyond. With some labor this road can usually be made passable for vehicles with four-wheel drive in the dry season. The ruins are 18 km from Melchor de Mencos by this route.

PR1NCIPAL INVESTIGATIONS AT THE SITE Naranjo was discovered by Teobert Maler in 1905 (Maler 1908, pp. 80-122).

In the course of nearly three months, during which time he lived in a small cave north of Structure A-17, Maler discovered 32 carved stelae, most of which he photographed, and the Hieroglyphic Stairway.

In the succeeding years Sylvanus G. Morley visited the site three times, accompanied during one season by Oliver G. Ricketson. The fruit of these visits was incorporated into his Inscriptions of Peten (Morley 1937-38, vol. 2, pp.21-165).

In 1962, at the request of Tatiana ProskouriakoH, Richard E. W. Adams went to Naranjo in order to take latex molds of certain inscriptions. He was badly hampered by the many trees that the hurricane of the previous year had thrown down and was not able to complete his assignment; nevertheless some of his molds have proved valuable, especially those of monuments damaged only a few years later.

As Morley has recounted (ibid., pp. 57, 58), Naranjo began to lose its sculpture at an early date. But the hieroglyphic step that he says had been taken out to Belize only a short time before his visit in 1914 would appear to have been removed from Naranjo by Maler nine years earlier. In a letter to C. P. Bowditch from Tenosique, Maler writes on September 8, 1905: "I brought from El Naranjo a stone of the famous scriptural staircase (after splitting away from the back as much as possible) safely to El Benque Viejo, where I left it in the house of a friendly turco. The stone is showing 4 great glyphs, finely carved and as good as new. I shall send from Merida a photo of this stone to Boston, then you can resolve if it would be important enough to be sent to the United States (still more worked down on the back, because stone is yet too heavy)." This is almost certainly the step now in the Museum of the American Indian, New York City.

In 1920 all but one of the remaining blocks of the Hieroglyphic Stairway were clumsily broken up and taken to Belize aoyce 1925, p. 297). They have since been reassembled, but there are losses. Serious plundering, however, did not begin until 1964, and in the following years various gangs seem to have raided the site at different times, to judge by the range of techniques employed. Some of the monuments, or parts of them, soon came to light in public and private collections; others have yet to reappear (1974). A tragic amount of sculpture was destroyed forever by looters completely devoid of expertise trying to "thin" stelae for easy removal.

NOTES ON THE RUINS For a general description of the ruins the reader is referred to Maler and Morley. Of the features discovered since their time, the most important is Group D. This is a small plaza constructed on a hilltop north of Group B, edged with low mounds and dominated by a mound 9.S meters high (Structure D-1). The elevation of the plaza floor is 38 meters above that of Group A. A causeway bordered with low walls leads up to a gap between two mounds on the edge facing the "temple" mound, D-1. Three carved stelae were standi~g at the foot of this mound, the upper portions of numbers 39 and 40 either destroyed, missing, or buried in debris.

Another small plaza was found south of Group A, also located on relatively high ground, in which lie a number of altars and two, or possibly three, stelae. For lack of any sign of carved surfaces these have been designated BS and B6. Another stela, C6, badly weathered but apparently plain, was found on a low westward extension of Structure C-6.

The two ball courts, B-32 and -33, and B-9 and -10, have hitherto escaped notice. A somewhat puzzling edifice, Structure C-4, deserves mention: it consists of a tall pylon, almost square in plan, with vertical sides rising from a conventional pyramidal base. Any facing that it may have had is fallen away, but these sheer walls still rise to a height of more than five meters without any vestige of stairway or aperature that could be distinguised in the course of a hurried inspection. Maler would certainly have called the structure a Sepulchral Pyramid.

A NOTE ON TIlE PLAN OF THE SITE All structures drafted in solid line were surveyed with compass and tape.

The tops of several large mounds were never investigated, and these have been outlined in dotted lines. This applies to the whole of Acropolis B (Structures B-14 to B-17). Uncarved altars and stelae not recorded in this survey have not been marked on the plan; accordingly, it must be used in conjunction with Ricketson's plan (Morley 1937-38, vol. 5, pI. 195).

REGISTER OF INSCRIPTIONS AT NARANJO Stelae 1 to 40

Lintell Hieroglyphic Stairway, Inscriptions I to XIII

 

SITE VOLUME REFERENCE:

SITE VOL/Part Monument Side Page Pub.year Notes Peobody Number

NARANJO

2.1 Map 5 1975
NARANJO 2.1 Map of Ruins 6 1975
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 1 Front 11 1975 2004.15.6.2.1
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 1 Left 12 1975 2004.15.6.2.2
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 1 Right 12 1975 2004.15.6.2.3
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 2 Front 13 1975 2004.15.6.2.4
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 2 Left 14 1975 2004.15.6.2.5
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 2 Right 15 1975 2004.15.6.2.6
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 3 Front 17 1975 2004.15.6.2.7
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 3 Right 18 1975 2004.15.6.2.8
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 3 Left 18 1975 2004.15.6.2.9
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 4 Front 19 1975 2004.15.6.2.10
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 5 Front 21 1975 2004.15.6.2.11
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 6 Front 23 1975 2004.15.6.2.12
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 6 Back 24 1975 2004.15.6.2.13
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 7 Front 25 1975 2004.15.6.2.14
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 8 Front 27 1975 2004.15.6.2.15
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 8 Back 28 1975 2004.15.6.2.16
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 9 Front 29 1975 2004.15.6.2.17
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 10 Front 31 1975 2004.15.6.2.18
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 11 Front 33 1975 2004.15.6.2.19
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 12 Front 35 1975 2004.15.6.2.20
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 12 Back 36 1975 2004.15.6.2.21
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 13 Front 37 1975 2004.15.6.2.22
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 13 Back 38 1975 2004.15.6.2.23
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 14 Front 39 1975 2004.15.6.2.24
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 14 Back 40 1975 2004.15.6.2.25
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 15 Front 41 1975 2004.15.6.2.26
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 15 Left 42 1975 2004.15.6.2.27
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 15 Right 42 1975 2004.15.6.2.28
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 16 Front 43 1975 2004.15.6.2.29
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 17 Front 45 1975 2004.15.6.2.30
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 18 Back 47 1975 2004.15.6.2.31
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 18 Left 48 1975 2004.15.6.2.32
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 18 Right 48 1975 2004.15.6.2.33
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 19 Front 49 1975 2004.15.6.2.34
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 19 Back 50 1975 2004.15.6.2.35
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 20 Front 51 1975 2004.15.6.2.36
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 21 Front 53 1975 2004.15.6.2.37
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 21 Back 54 1975 2004.15.6.2.38
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 22 Front 55 1975 2004.15.6.2.39
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 22 Left 56 1975 2004.15.6.2.40
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 22 Right 56 1975 2004.15.6.2.41
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 23 Front 59 1975 2004.15.6.2.42
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 23 Left 60 1975 2004.15.6.2.43
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 23 Right 60 1975 2004.15.6.2.44
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 24 Front 63 1975 2004.15.6.2.45
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 24 Left 64 1975 2004.15.6.2.46
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 25 front 69 1978 2004.15.6.3.1
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 25 left 70 1978 2004.15.6.3.2
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 25 right 70 1978 2004.15.6.3.3
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 26 front 71 1978 2004.15.6.3.4
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 27 front 73 1978 2004.15.6.3.5
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 28 front 75 1978 2004.15.6.3.6
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 28 back 76 1978 2004.15.6.3.7
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 29 front 77 1978 2004.15.6.3.8
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 29 back 78 1978 2004.15.6.3.9
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 30 front 79 1978 missing
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 30 back 80 1978 2004.15.6.3.11
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 31 front 83 1978 2004.15.6.3.12
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 31 back 84 1978 2004.15.6.3.13
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 32 front 86 1978 2004.15.6.3.14
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 33 front 87 1978 2004.15.6.3.15
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 35 front 91 1978 2004.15.6.3.16
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 35 back 92 1978 2004.15.6.3.17
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 36 front 93 1978 2004.15.6.3.18
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 37 front 95 1978 2004.15.6.3.19
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 38 front 97 1978 2004.15.6.3.20
NARANJO 2.2 Stela 40 front 101 1978 2004.15.6.3.21
NARANJO 2.2 Altar 1 front 103 1978 2004.15.6.3.22
NARANJO 2.2 Altar 1 104 1978 missing
NARANJO 2.2 Lintel 1 front 105 1978 2004.15.6.3.24
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step I 107 1978 step I thru VI 2004.15.6.3.25
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step II 108 1978 are on the 2004.15.6.3.26
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step III 108 1978 same board 2004.15.6.3.27
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step IV 108 1978 2004.15.6.3.28
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step V 108 1978 2004.15.6.3.29
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step VI 109 1978 2004.15.6.3.30
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step VII 109 1978 step VII thru XII 2004.15.6.3.31
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step VIII 109 1978 are on the 2004.15.6.3.32
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step IX 109 1978 same board 2004.15.6.3.33
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step X 110 1978 2004.15.6.3.34
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step XI 110 1978 2004.15.6.3.35
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair step XII 110 1978 2004.15.6.3.36
NARANJO 2.2 Hieroglyphic Stair XIII 110 1978 2004.15.6.3.37
NARANJO 2.3 Map 185 1980
NARANJO 2.3 Stela 41 front 185 1980 2004.15.6.4.19
NARANJO 2.3 Ball-court Sclpt.1 3 Fragments 187 1980 2004.15.6.4.20
NARANJO 2.1 Stela 24 Right 64 1975 2004.15.6.2.47

AUTHOR REFERENCE:

SITE (by Vol) VOL/Part Author(s)
NARANJO 2.1 Ian Graham and Eric von Euw, Vol 2.1, 1975
NARANJO 2.2 Ian Graham, Vol. 2.2, 1978
NARANJO 2.3 Ian Graham, Vol. 2.3, 1980
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