Freedom8 Mesoamerica



 

   

Uaxactún
means "eight stones" in Mayan. The site gets its name from the fact that Sylvanus G. Morley discovered a stela with a date beginning with the number eight there. The ruins of Uaxactún are located in the Petén area 15 miles north of Tikal. The ruins are accessible only in summer or extremely dry periods, but can also be reached on an unpaved road by jeep from Flores.
This site is important because it was one of the earliest settlements that flourished in the Classic period. It was inhabited, with interruptions, from the middle pre-Classic on through the late Classic. The inscription on one of the stelae found here shows one of the area's oldest Long-Count dates, 328 B.C., and one of the most recent, 889 A.D. It is believed by some that this is where the Maya refined the culture. Uaxactun may be where their writing system was perfected and where major portions of the incredible calendric systems were started. Uaxactún also produced the best quality and most aesthetic surviving polychrome clay vases known to date in the World of the Maya. The most famous construction in Uaxactún is a building with stairways on all four sides flanked by large stuccoed masks. This structure with others formed part of an astronomical observation complex for the study of equinoxes and solstices indicated by the sun's position above the buildings. Nearly identical structures have been found in the northern city of Acanceh.