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Ancient Maya site Kabah linked to Uxmal with causeway

By Catholic Online (NEWS CONSORTIUM)
July 19th, 2011
Catholic Online (

A sacbé, or Mayan ceremonial causeway, links the ancient Maya city of Kabah with Uxmal, a raised pedestrian walkway with ceremonial arches at each end. Kabah is located on the Yucatán Peninsula. Its buildings date from about the 9th century and are in the Puuc style of architecture. The most notable structure in Kabah is an extraordinary palace that is completely covered in masks of the hook-nosed rain god Chac.

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Kabah was inhabited by the 3rd century BC, but the principal buildings on the site date mostly from the 9th century AD. A sculpted date of 857 was found on one of the doorjambs. The city was abandoned by around 1200.

Not much is known about the site's history, but it seems to have been a dependency of the great city of Uxmal, linked by a Mayan "white road" used for ceremonial purposes.

Kabah was first explored in the mid-19th century by John Lloyd Stephens and Frederick Catherwood. The first systematic digs were carried out by Teobert Maler towards the end of the 19th century. Interest in the site was largely abandoned by archaeologists, until an investigation resumed in 1990. A program in 2003 to clear and restore more buildings and archeological excavations continue under the direction of Ramón Carrasco.

The Kabah ruins have been a designated conservation area in 1993. The ruins extend for a considerable distance on both sides of the highway and many of the more distant structures are little visited; others are still overgrown with forest.

All the buildings excavated so far at Kabah are in the traditional Puuc style. The style called Puuc is named after a string of low hills that extend from western Campeche into the state of Yucatán. Puuc sites are very numerous and clearly were the focal point for Maya artistic and intellectual culture in this area.

Characteristics of the Puuc style include facings of thin squares of limestone veneer over a cement-and-rubble core; boot shaped vault stones; decorated cornices around columns in doorways and lavish use of stone mosaics in upper facades, emphasizing sky-serpent faces with long, hook-shaped noses.

The most notable structure at Kabah is the Palace of the Masks, or Codz Pop (meaning "Rolled Matting"), which has a facade covered in hundreds of stone masks of the hook-nosed rain god Chac. This massive repetition of a single set of elements is unusual in Maya art and makes for an impressive sight.

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