LOCATION AND ACCESS The ruins of Uxmal lie some 15 km to the south-southeast of Muna, or about 80 km south of Merida. The terrain on which the ancient city was built is part of an extensive zone consisting largely of low hills sparsely covered with lithosol (tzekel) or rendzina (kaccab) soils, with bottom lands of fertile red clay soil (kancab), this in turn merging into the Iuvisols of season~ ally flooded land (akalche) (Dunning n.d., tables 1, 2 and fig. 12).
To the north this zone is sharply delimited by a range of hills, the Sierrita de Tieul or Cordon Puuc, which runs west-northwest to east-southeast, with Muna lying just across this range, close against its flank. Streams are not found in this zone, but a few ponds exist, and a number of aguadas, many of them perhaps man-made or at least artificially improved (Barrera Rubio 1987). Other sources of water for the inhabitants have been chultuns for the catchment and storage of rainwater, a few cenotes or subterranean aquifers accessible in deep caves, and in colonial times deep wells or norias through which water was raised using capstans powered by draft animals.
Until early in this century the usual route taken by visitors coming from Merida took them through Muna and then on to Hacienda Uxmal via San Jose Tipceh, thereby avoiding the steeper slopes of the Sierrita near Muna. From the hacienda the ruins lay less than 2 km further south. An alterna~ tive way from Merida passed through Maxcanu and Becal, reaching the ruins from the west. This route is shown on nineteenth century maps of the peninsula such as that of Joaquin Hiibbe and Andres Aznar Perez published in 1878.
The two routes probably united just north of the ruins. From this point the road went on past the Adivino or Temple of the Magician, along the foot of the great terrace of the Palace of the Governor, and then made its way south to Campeche via Bolonchen without making a detour through Santa Elena (then known as Nohcacab). In his general view of the palace (Stephens 1843, vol. 1, frontispiece) Frederick Catherwood captured a moment of heavy traffic in front of the palace, made up of horsemen, porters, two caches or litters, pack animals, and a hunter, all heading north.
The more direct route from Muna to the ruins, over the Sierrita, was first opened for the visit of the Empress Carlota, who was duly carried over it in a litter (Le Plongeon 1885, p. 376). In time this track was improved for the use of wheeled vehicles and eventually was transformed into Federal Highway 180, which runs close by the ruins on its way to Campeche via Hopelchen.
PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATIONS AT THE SITE Uxmal is one of the three great Maya cities-Chichen Itza and Copan being the others-of which we have descriptions dating from the sixteenth century, for in 1588 the Franciscan Padre Alonso Ponce paid a visit, an account of which, written by his secretary Antonio de Ciudad Real, has survived (Relacion Breve 1872, LVlll, pp. 455-461; English translation of the same passage given in Spinden 1975, pp. 5-8). Ciudad Real's description is astonishingly fuIl and accurate, with mention even of such details as cardholders and the construction of corbel vaults.
The first published illustrations of Uxmal, the work of Frederick Waldeck (1838), contributed little to knowledge of the ruins; they are fanciful and restored and were almost at once supplanted by the marvelous descriptions and illustrations of John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood. This incomparable pair of travelers first visited Uxmal in 1840, returning two years later for a longer stay (Stephens 1841 and 1843).
On their first visit Stephens and Catherwood were fortunate in finding the ruins uncharacteristically clear of vegetation. The ruins, which lay within the boundaries of the hacienda, had recently been burnt over for the cultivation of maize, so they were able to observe and chart on their map the ruined waIl running from opposite the Adivino to the Vieja, now known to be a section of the possibly defensive muralIa-a feature that was to escape further attention for well over a century.
In the southwesternmost chamber of the palace they found a wooden lintel 10 feet (3.05 m) long, 23 inches (0.58 m) wide, and 12 inches (0.30 m) thick, by then fallen from its setting. "On the face was a line of characters carved or stamped, almost obliterated, but which we made out to be hieroglyphics and, so far as we could understand them, similar to those used at Copan and Palenque." On leaving from their second visit to Uxmal they took the lintel with them for display in Catherwood's Panorama, where unfortunately two years later it was consumed in a disastrous fire along with other items in their collection (Stephens 1843, vol. 1, pp. 178-179).
Uxmal had a very bad reputation for malaria; it was said that no child born on the hacienda ever survived to grow up there (Holmes 1895, p. 80). This danger and the lingering War of the Castes kept most visitors away for the next 40 years; but not all of them, for in 1860 Desire Charnay arrived and then managed, under most difficult conditions, to take a justly famous set of large-format photographs (Viollet-le-Duc and Charnay 1863).
Charnay was followed five years later by the Abbe Brasseur de Bourbourg, whose report (Brasseur de Bourbourg 1867) presents a site plan showing the Cementerio Group and one of its platforms; but the Abbe de voted so much of his time to detection of ancient but largely illusory works of hydraulic engineering that unfortunately he added almost nothing to the store of information already provided by Stephens and Catherwood.
After about 1880, however, members of the first generation of archaeologists-as distinct from antiquarians-began to visit, notably E. H. Thompson, Alfred Maudslay, Teobert Maler, William H. Holmes, Eduard SeIer, and Sylvanus G. Morley. One of the most valuable products of the years before the first World War was a work compiled by SeIer in the course of three visits between 1902 and 1911, Die Ruinen von Uxmal (SeIer 1917). By then, day visitors had also become so numerous that "the magnificent House of the Governor ... is now almost covered with names on the front and on the cement walls inside. These names are painted in black, blue, and red, and the letters are in some cases 12 inches high, and there are to be seen the names of men who are widely known in the scientific world" (Saville 1893, p. 91).
In 1909 the young Morley spent several days at Uxmal investigating and mapping the Palomas and South Quadrangle group (Morley 1910); in fact he was the first to describe the South Temple in print.
The year 1927 saw the beginning of the Mexican government's intermittent but still continuing program of restorations at Uxmal, for in that year the exterior of the Palace of the Governor was consolidated, with as many as possible of the fallen facade elements put back in place (Direcci6n de Arqueologia 1928).
Three years later an expedition mounted by the Middle American Research Institute of Tulane University (MARl), and led by Frans Blom, spent three months in Uxmal. Its main objective was to take moulds of the facades of the Nunnery Quadrangle for a full-size replica to be erected at the 1933 Chicago World's Fair, but other investigations were carried out too (Blom 1934). A professional surveyor, Robert H. Merrill, prepared an accurate plan of the Nunnery Quadrangle and the Temple of the Magician (Adivino), and a second plan at a smaller scale providing much greater coverage (Merrill 1930). Although the latter was far from complete and does no more than indicate the location of various central and outlying groups, it was rightly considered by Pollock as meriting republication at an adequate scale 50 years later (Pollock 1980, fig. 388). Unfortunately, neither 810m's nor Merrill's notebooks can now be located at MARL
Some years earlier, the government caretaker, Inez May, had discovered a group of sculptures, and on Blom's arrival he located them again for him to see (Blom 1934, p. 57). This was the Stela Platform, and in view of its importance it was fortunate that the expedition included a skilled photographer, Dan Leyrer, who had come equipped with a gasoline generator and electric lamps for night photography. Leyrer's pioneer efforts produced superb photographs of the newly discovered sculpture.
It is a shock now to see from aerial photographs and views taken by Leyrer and others how ruinous most of the buildings were and how deeply encumbered with debris. Three-quarters of the facade of the west building of the Nunnery, for example, then lay in ruins. Immense works of clearing and restoration have since been accomplished, the government program having been revived in 1936 under the direction of Jose Erosa Peniche, and continued in the early 19505 by Alberto Ruz and later by Cesar Saenz. It seems that in restoring the west range of the Nunnery there was no other recourse than to be guided by Waldeck's rendering of a portion of it (Waldeck 1838, pI. XllI) since a large part of that facade had collapsed between Waldeck's visit and Catherwood's (Stephens 1843, p.198). In recent years smaller works of clearing and consolidation were completed by Alfredo Barrera R. and Tomas Gallareta N. of the Proyecto Uxmal of the Centro Regional Yucatan. Following the earlier work of Alberto Ruz Lhuillier, Ruben Maldonado Cardenas made further investigations of the ball court, in the course of which a previously undiscovered fragment of the east ring was found. A summary of work done under the auspices of the Instituto Nacional de Antropologia e Historia (INAH) is given by Alfredo Barrera Rubio (1989, p.126-131). In addition it should be noted that in 1941 Morley restored the Cementerio platforms, resetting the loose sculptured stones as best he could.
In 1936 a large amount of the architectural and decorative detail visible at Uxmal was recorded by Harry Pollock and subsequently published in his great compendium on Puuc architecture (Pollock 1980, pp. 208-275) and in a smaller work on Chenes ruins (Pollock 1970, pp. 66-80). At the same time, Pollock's collaborator, Henry Roberts, dug many test trenches, the ceramics from which were later studied by George W. Brainerd (1958).
In 1970 and 1973 Horst Hartung and Antony Aveni investigated the degree to which the ground plan of the Palace of the Governor conforms to rectangularity,. and they suggested that certain directions defined by the palace and other structures at Uxmal have an astronomical significance (Hartung and Aveni 1982).
A study of the Palace of the Governor undertaken by Jeff Karl Kowalski in 1976-77 led to the publication of a comprehensive treatise on that building and its history based upon a synthesis of evidence culled from various disciplines. Preliminary work for a similar study of the Nunnery was completed by the same author in 1988 (Kowalski 1990).
NOTES ON THE RUINS Uxmal is perhaps unique among the more celebrated Maya cities in that on the one hand, it contains structures so well-known as to make further description here unnecessary; while on the other, half of the site at least, containing several interesting and quite large structures, is practically unknown even to specialists. But plainly, any adequate description of these in the present publication is out of the question, and space will be taken up only for a few small points.
One point concerns monument breakage. Stela 11 bears unmistakable signs of two grooves having been cut, or rather pecked, across its front to make breakage of the thick shaft easier. A similar groove, made more effective by the addition of seven deep drilled holes, runs across the face of Stela 4, although this stela was never in fact given the coup de grace. Whether or not Stelae 1, 3, 5, and 6 were broken deliberately (and one suspects they were), attempts were later made to repair them, as witness the holes made for reinforcing dowels in the mating faces of fractures.
In discussing the Stela Platform itself, Blom wrote that "right in the center of the mound is a deep hole, around which the stelae lie scattered in all directions. There is hardly any doubt that some vandal, seeking treasures, set off a dynamite bomb under one of the larger monuments" (Field letter from Uxmal, 14 April, 1930; MARl Archives, Tulane University, printed in full as Appendix 1 in Hinderleiter 1930). Most of the stelae were found to be broken, and initially their number was unclear. Blom attempted to sort out the fragments and with great skill succeeded in reassembling the fragments of Stela 14 in such a way that the restored shaft lay on its side.
In 1941 Morley, too, spent time studying the fragments and reassembling them (Morley 1970). A sketch plan of the platform appears in his diary (entry for 11 February, 1941; Peabody Museum Archives), but as Pollock was unable to find a finished plan among Morley's papers when he was editing the unfinished manuscript on the Stela Platform, he prepared one himself, based on the Morley text, sketch plan, and notes (Morley 1970, fig. 1). Since there was no measured plot of the platform available, the plan is avowedly schematic and in some respects would seem to be erroneous if one assumes that none of the heavier monuments was moved during the next 40 years. Furthermore, I wonder, as Pollock did (ibid., note 4), how justified Morley was in regimenting the stelae into four rows. My own plan, reproduced here, was made after Stelae 2 and 14 had been removed to the little museum in the parador; the spot where Stela 14 had lain since 1930 was still discernible, but the former locus of Stela 2 could not be accurately determined.
Morley (ibid., p. 158) states that "not a single sub~stela cache was found," thereby implying that some searching below the surface was done, and raising the possibility that some of the smaller pieces of sculpture may have been moved to allow this.
The Cementerio group (the "Campo Santo" to Stephens, and ULa Pri~ sian" to Charnay) centers on a courtyard enclosed by a tall pyramid on the north side and high substructures on the other three sides, the original entrance clearly having been from the south, possibly through a portal vault. Among the six Miscellaneous Sculptures found in the court and listed by Pollock (1980, p. 266) is one (Msc.10) perforated with three circular holes which give it the appearance of medieval stocks-hence perhaps Charnay's term (another sculpture of the same kind, this one broken and not listed by Pollock, lies near the southwest corner of the terrace projecting in front of the House of the Old Woman). As noted above, the four plat~ forms edged with carved stones were restored by Morley, and on the evi~ dence of Morley's diary Pollock thinks that all trace of Platform 4 had disappeared with the scattering of its component stones, so that its present position is conjectural. Stephens does not describe or illustrate the platforms, but he does show six stones of very similar design, found at Nohpat (Stephens 1843, vol. 1, p. 367).
Five inscriptions painted on stuccoed stone are illustrated in the present work: one that was on a wall, and four on capstones. Vestiges of other painted capstones and walls have been reported by Karl- Herbert Mayer (1983, pp. 42-45) and Kowalski (1990, pp. 27-29).
As already mentioned, the muralla or wall circling the center of the city was noticed by Stephens and Catherwood; indeed the owner of the hacienda informed them that "it might be traced through the woods, broken and ruined, until it met and enclosed within its circle the whole of the principal buildings" (Stephens 1843, vol. 1, p. 230). The next mention of it occurs in a report by Saenz (1972, p. 36). A few years later it was examined by Alfredo Barrera R. and Baltazar Gonzalez E, who were kind enough to provide me with a copy of their unpublished schematic plan of it before I started my own survey. Here and there a stretch of wall remains with its vertical sides standing to a height of about 1.5 m, but in general the stones, which seem to include very few reused from delapidated buildings, have tumbled out to give an apparent width of about 5 m. In a few places, most notably the stretch lying to the east of the platform of the Governor's Palace, the wall would present little impediment to attacking hordes as it stands, but perhaps road builders helped themselves to it, for as Saenz notes, the wall disappears altogether in the vicinity of road embankments and modern buildings. Road construction must also be held responsible for the disappearance of the northeastern corner of the platform of the North Group.
The feature identified on the plan as an albarrada closely resembles those dry-laid field walls, one stone thick, that are commonly found in Yucatec haciendas, and it is clearly one of these, dating perhaps from the nineteenth century. The aerial photograph of the Temple of the Magician (Adivino) clearly shows another old wall bordering the road and running some way up both sides of the pyramid.
The low and narrow walls that are seen near Structures llL-7, 12K-13, 14M-7, and on either side of 14L-9 are of another kind. They might rather be called demarcation lines since they were clearly not intended as barriers to passage. Some, notably those in front of Str. 12K-13, seem to be very late constructions, to judge by their high content of reused stones, and the occurrence in them of quite large quadrant stones from the corners of nearby substructures, which seem unlikely to have fallen out of place early in the process of decay.
The last-mentioned structure, 12K-13, has a passage running under the stairway, though there is no interior chamber depending on it for access.
The circular mound, Str. 12L-52, is about 3 m high; its top consists of a central level area 7 m in diameter surrounded by a low ring, 2 m wide, which was presumably the base for a construction of perishable materials.
Some of the many chultuns at Uxmal have been examined by personnel of the Proyecto Uxmal (Gonzalez F. 1979). In some, figures both human and animal were found modeled in stucco on the walls, while in one there was a crude representation drawn in black pigment of a human figure with a row of hieroglyphs below, all of them apparently surmounted by coefficients of between one and fourteen; but their poor condition, at least as illustrated in the paper cited, weighs against their reproduction in the present work. This chultun is stated to be in the platform of the Chanchimez and so is likely to be Ch.15L-1.
Chultun 14L-2 lies close to an unusually well-preserved stretch of muralla, as the illustration shows, and it is notable for having its mouth surrounded by a raised stuccoed masonry ring pierced by four drainage holes, thus resembling the one at Chelemi shown in the section by Pollock (1980, fig. 785).
Stephens (1843, vol. 1, pp. 227-228) and Alice Le Plongeon (1885, p. 379) describe the existence of chultuns (since covered over) on the terrace of the Governor's Palace, one of them at the foot of the stairway, where bedrock was reported to lie about a meter beneath the surface. On the strength of depressions in the surface of the terrace, Kowalski (1987, fig. 12) shows four probable chultuns near its southern edge.
Precisely where, nearly a century ago, E. H. Thompson found Altar 10 has long been a matter of doubt. According to Holmes (1895, p. 96) it was found "half a mile south and a little east of the Governor's Palace," while SeIer (1917, pp. 153-154) states that it stood in the court of a small complex of simple, unadorned buildings, and that this complex lay south of the Iglesia (that is, House of the Old Woman) and not far to the east of the road leading to Santa Elena. A somewhat similar description (placing it about a kilometer southeast of the Governor's Palace and a short distance to the east of the road leading from Uxmal to San Simon) is given by Juan Martinez H. (1914, p. 2), who also provides the useful information that the altar was situated on a terrace at the foot of a temple, which in turn had been puilt upon a hill of considerable height, formed of solid rock. This eliminates as a possible contender the small group in Square 16L, and points instead to the large complex in Square 17L. Beyond doubt, the latter corresponds to Blom's Group 16, shown on his map as standing on a natural elevation about 1 km south of the Governor's Palace and 120 m from the road. A cylindrical concrete marker found embedded in Structure 17L-5 (indicated on the accompanying plan by a triangular symbol) may well have been put there on Blom's orders, for it lacks the plaque characteristic of Mexican cartographic surveyors. I would surmise that Altar 10 was found on the low platform in front of Structure 17L-B, thus sharing it with a plain column altar stiU in place.
The aguada shown correctly on Blom's plan as lying 350 m to the east of this group was found to contain abundant water as late as mid-March in the year that I visited it. Pollock (1980, pp. 263-264) draws attention to a lack of agreement regarding the location of the Triumphal Arch between at least two of those who have seen it. Blom is most likely to be correct, and his positioning, recorded by means of a pair of arrows at the foot of his plan (Pollock 1970, fig. 388), indicates that it lies about 500 m from the aguada, at a bearing of 1910 from true north. A. Ledyard Smith and Karl Ruppert (1954) showed that it faced north-south, was similar in dimensions to the Arch at Kabah, and had collapsed, although four courses of vault stones remained in place on one side.
It is unlikely that this arch was the terminus of the sacbe that starts at the Arch at Kabah (Structure 1B1) and passes through Nohpat. Pollock (1970, p. 276) reported that his men traced the sacbe from Nohpat to within 1 km of Uxmal and that he had no doubt it reached Uxmal in the general vicinity of the Temple of the Old Woman; but Ramon Carrasco, who made a similar investigation in 1990, told me that the sacbe ends at a group of ruins named Chetulix, about 3 km short of UxmaI.
A NOTE ON THE PLAN OF THE RUINS The paucity of Puuc sites that have been adequately mapped is notorious, but no site stands out more conspicuously as lacking a good map than Uxmal. Though well aware of this deficiency when planning the present fascicle, I still felt unable to justify devoting to it the six months or so of surveying that production of a good map would require. Morley indeed once wrote of Uxmal that "to survey and map the entire site, which is one of the most extensive in the whole region ... is rather the work of a large institution, operating for a term of years, than of an individual ... " (Morley 1910, p. 1).
The site plan prepared by 810m's surveyor proved to be commendably accurate so far as it goes, but only a few of the better-known structures are shown adequately. Certain other structures and groups are identified on the plan by numerals keyed to notes and photographs in 810m's 1934 report, information that Pollock (1980) relays in part, with some additions. Of such groups lying beyond the borders of the plans published here I visited only one, almost certainly 810m's Group 11; it consists of a lofty mound (elevation 67.7 m) with a court on its northeast side.
My intention, then, was to compile a site plan of Uxmal using the MARl plan as a basis and to dovetail into it all the available published plans of buildings and groups. Among these were compass-and-tape surveys of the Cementerio and Chanchimez that I had made in 1969. Thus a week or two of fresh surveying (or so I thought) would suffice to articulate these elements properly and to fill a few lacunae.
It soon became evident that this was a serious error of judgment. For one thing, some of the published plans proved to be much less accurate than expected; for another, forays into the scrub forest disclosed large buildings and even groups not marked on any plan. Thus I found myself surveying a considerably larger area than originally intended, while continuing to use the unorthodox technique of surveying with a transit that I had begun with: one that allows very rapid work, at a cost in accuracy. Thereafter the map grew and grew, until it included most of the principal features of the site. By then it was too late to stiffen the whole survey with a properly triangulated backbone.
I have felt obliged to mention the shortcomings of this site plan lest the appearance of accuracy that it possibly presents should deter anyone from undertaking a more careful survey in the future. At the same time I venture to believe that when such a survey is made, not too many of the structure designations based on the 200-meter squares will have to be changed.
My surveying was done during two weeks in March 1986, two in February 1987, and four in May and June of the same year. Then in February 1989 I returned to search for and to map the complex in which Altar 10 was found a century ago and was ably helped in this by my friend H. Lee Jones, Jr.
Anyone contemplating a new survey of Uxmal should be forewarned about difficulties inherent in the task: there's the debilitating effect of heat in a scrub forest that is almost leafless in the dry season; the nonavailability of casual laborers at Uxmal; the 2-meter-high grass that covers large areas, blanketing features and turning chultuns into booby traps; and the terrible thorny branches of bee and dziuche (Bee, it may be noted, is defined in the Motul, Vienna, and other dictionaries as an exclamation of pain-"guay, oh, ah!"-so this vicious vine is well named).
In my plan, Miscellaneous Sculpture 27, the recumbent statue identified-by Ruz at least-as the goddess Tlazolteotl-Toci (Ruz 1948, p. 24) is shown restored to the position on Structure 14M-2 that it once occupied, if the caretaker of the ruins in Ruz's time is to be believed.
In applying cross-hatching as a symbol for structures with intact vaulted roofs, no attempt has been made to limit this to vaulting that was intact before restoration.
An assumed datum point for elevation was chosen in the nearly level ground found between the Cementerio and the single aguada that lies within the confines of my main site plan (others exist farther out). This point was assigned an elevation of 40.0 m, a figure derived, or inferred, from the Uxmal sheet (F16C71) in the Mexican government 1:50,000 map series (Cetenal, preliminary dyeline version, 1983).
REGISTER OF INSCRIPTIONS AT UXMAL Stelae 1-15, 17 (Stela 16 is plain) Altar 10
Hieroglyphic Step I
Ball-court Sculptures I, 2 Monuments 1-4
Capstones 1, 2, 5, 6
Mural Painting 1
NOTES Monuments 1 to 4 are the Cementerio Platforms numbered 1 to 4 in Pollock's nomenclature. Platform is certainly a more fitting term but unfortunately not one of the categories originally selected for use in this work. Although Monument 2 carries no hieroglyphic inscriptions, a full photo- graphic record of it is included for the sake of completeness. Glyph-blocks on the platforms may be referred to in this fashion: Uxmal:Mon.3,M2 (one of the two glyphs on a lost fragment, mentioned below). Miscellaneous 76 is the carved and inscribed vessel of Mexican onyx found by Ruz in the platform in front of the Governor's Palace, which had also contained Miscellaneous 21, the two-headed jaguar (Ruz 1954, pp. 62, 63; fig. 6; pI. XXIV).
Capstones are another class of inscribed surfaces overlooked in the original listing (vol. 1:25), and they must be added to it together with the abbreviation Cst., as employed by Mayer, whose numbering of the Uxmal capstones is also adopted here (1983, pp. 42-45).