Landmarks and Mayan sculpture

According to most researchers, Mayan culture is one of the greatest achievements of mankind in ancient times. This civilization existed for almost a thousand years. Mayans were the first development of the people of America, faced by the Spaniards during the conquest of lands of the Western Hemisphere.

By the time Europeans arrived Maya occupied a vast territory. In its range, scientists usually distinguish three cultural and geographic areas. So, for example, cover the entire northern Yucatan peninsula, which is a flat limestone plain with bushes. In places it crossed chains of low rocky hills. The lack of rivers, streams and lakes, poor soil aware difficulties to engage in farming. Not exactly conducive to a residence and the southern region, which included the mountains and the Pacific coast of southern Mexico and Guatemala. More profitable in its natural condition is the central region, covering the northern part of Guatemala and the surrounding area from the west, where are now the Mexican states such as Chiapas, Tabasco and Campeche. The central region — is a hilly limestone plain. Much of it is covered by tropical rain forests, interspersed with grassy savannas, swampy depressions and lakes.

In such difficult conditions, and were built Mayan first modest huts of wood and clay, and subsequently large stone city. Although the tools were very primitive and made only of wood, bone and stone, Maya managed to achieve perfection in the striking architecture, sculpture, painting, ceramics.

The development of the ancient Mayan civilization lasted for nearly ten centuries. At the end of the VIII century, the Maya reached the highest degree of cultural development. By this time the Indians were erected exquisite temples, giant dams, roads, numerous pyramids and palaces. For centuries, grown and expanded the old towns, there were new. It lasted almost to the end I millennium BC. e. In the IX century the prosperous lands and white stone Mayan cities there was some accident. As a result, the architectural construction in cities entirely. Skilled sculptors did not build more huge stone stele with faces of rulers and gods, and skilled carvers did not decorate their fanciful and elegant characters.

The greatest Mayan centers have become the blight. Residents leave them. In just a few decades, the city of the ancient Maya were safely hidden from human eyes, once in the grip of rampant evergreen jungle. Those who help themselves deserted and abandoned buildings were covered with forest vegetation. Vines and tree roots destroying the foundations and floors of massive buildings, and low-growing shrub filled all the free part of space where most recently ran the streets and roads, dams. Therein lies one of the greatest mysteries of culture-phenomenon, which include the ancient Mayan civilization. Cities of the Classical period, built in the I millennium BC. e., back in the pre-Columbian period, the jungle swallowed. And when at the end of the XV century on the lands of America Columbus set foot people, and at the beginning of XVI century, here came the first expedition of the conquistadors, the ancient Mayan civilization forgotten even the closest descendants of the people who once lived there.

Culture, which preceded the classical period of the Mayan civilization (protoklassicheskoy experts refer to it), I millennium BC. e., according to most researchers, of course, is much more modest and has a set of quality indicators. However, the continuity between them is pretty clear. This is particularly noticeable in the collation of the following characteristics: a monumental stone architecture with a step (false) vault, mandatory carved stone stelae with sculpted images and inscriptions, hieroglyphic writing, royal tombs with funeral temple beneath them lay the basic architectural complexes around rectangular courtyards and squares , which are oriented to the cardinal. All these features are characteristic of pre-classical monuments of architecture, of course, were the basis for the future development and prosperity of the Mayan culture.

City of Copan was built in the classical period of ancient Maya civilization, about the middle of VII century. According to the descriptions that are left in the XVI century, G. Palacio, and later, in the middle of the XIX century, J. Stephenson, Copan was discovered in western Honduras, near the Guatemalan border, Zacapa and Chiquimula departments. The so-called urban center of Copan occupies 30 hectares. Local architecture differed in that it lacked the great pyramids, and ascended high temples with huge "roof ridges." Copan impression huge acropolis, which is composed of several pyramids, platforms, terraces, temples and courtyards. They were located in the city groups. One of the main attractions — the stairs leading to the acropolis. It consists of 63 steps and is sculpted around 2500 characters. Especially highlighted temples. The construction of three of the researchers attribute to 756-771 years. One of the temples was dedicated to Venus.

Huge interest in the central square. It erected nine monoliths which are the basis for the altars, sleek finish. According to scientists, in Copan was one of the largest astronomical observatory, which, the ancient Mayan city. American archaeologist C. Morley suggested that the population of Copán during its zenith reached 200 thousand. However, according to other researchers, some scientist overestimated the number of inhabitants. However Copan in ancient times was considered the most outstanding center of the Mayan civilization.

To the north of Copan, already on Guatemalan territory, is the city of Quirigua. It is not as impressive in size, but is of great interest as a monument of ancient civilization. Its territory archaeologists have found amazing stelae covered reliefs. One of them reaches a ten-height and in size exceeds all other monoliths found in Mesoamerica.

One of the most brilliant city of ancient Maya civilization of the classical period, many scholars believe the architectural complex of Palenque. Its history goes back almost ten centuries. It has existed since the end I millennium BC. e. to the end I millennium BC. e. The name of this town, like almost all the other ancient cities of the Maya, is conditional. In their choice of modern scholars often guided by purely random characters. Palenque in Spanish means "fence", "fencing", "enclosure".

This urban center, the architecture and sculpture of its different features that were prisushit Mayan classical period.

The most common building material was stone. The buildings were constructed mainly of limestone. Hewn out of the rock cliffs burn through, thus obtaining lime.

Maya mixes it with sand, water was added and the components were prepared from cementing solution.

In conjunction with the stone dust, he gave a kind of another great building material — a piece (a bit of a modern filler, made of a mixture of gypsum and chalk). Stuck covered the walls and ceilings. Using the extraordinary plasticity of the material, the Maya produced masterly stucco that was applied to the walls and columns of buildings, their grounds, friezes. Using a sharp blade, apparently out of obsidian (volcanic glass), on plates coated pieces, be clearly outlines the drawn lines with images of deities, the hieroglyphic inscriptions. Calcareous stones were also used for the manufacture of various ornaments, tableware. Made of limestone shoals, lintels, stelae, altars and statues.

The main features of the city center at Palenque was the presence of the portico with three, and sometimes five entrances. They were formed by the construction of large columns. Within the central rear room, which was a sort of a separate architectural units, a sanctuary. It is to be for the protection of the character of the cult, which was dedicated to the temple. Small rooms that are on the sides of the sanctuary, were the monastic cells of the priests.

In Palenque, as in all others found during the excavation of the palaces and temples of the Maya, on either side of the entrance to a wall or column can be found similarity stone rings. This is either a piece of stone, inserted into a small notch or a small stone cylinder, integrated vertically into the space between two stones.

Similar devices were used for fastening ropes that are suspended from the curtain. It serves as a kind of door and hid the room from the rain and wind, rescued from the cold. Ancient Mayan architects in the design of the building was used as projecting canopies, which strengthened the special rails. During rains water dripping on them, bypassing the walls or pillars, decorated with reliefs of the piece, thus protecting them from erosion and rapid destruction.

Of great interest is the evolution of that done in the Maya city planning. Their first buildings erected for the ritual purposes or as dwellings of the priests and chiefs, were not more than a simple hut, which had different sizes. Foundation for them at this time (IV-II century BC. E.) Serves as a platform of different height, lined with stone and pieces. In the later pre-classical period (closer to the I millennium BC. E.) The grounds for the buildings were turned into stepped pyramids, which were created by superimposing one platform to another. However, even in this period, the temple crowns the pyramid, despite the fact that its base is decorated with rich alabaster mask howling as were simple hut with a palm roof. And only in the classical period of development, from the first centuries of our era, to replace palm roof came a stone arch. It was called the false arch or Mayan arch. This architectural innovation is not an invention of the Maya. Their homes and buildings covered in this way, some of the Old World, such as the Mycenaeans, several thousand years before the first shoots emerged culture of ancient Indian civilization.

Mayan arch had a feature. It was constructed through the convergence of the walls, from a certain height. Rows of stones with superimposed one on the other so that each subsequent acted above it. When the hole at the top becomes very small, its cover plate. A new set was much stronger. After all, it was built of stone and did not give in, as opposed to wood, the damaging and destructive effects of humid tropical climate. This type of floor provided an acute angle arch, as it is high and a huge massive wall, which this vault rested. At the same time, the internal usable volume of the buildings was very small compared to the outside. A false set of architectural structures had a small width of the room at sufficient length.

In Mayan arch was another drawback. He allowed to overlap, by reason of its design, but smaller spaces. However, in some cases, ancient architects still managed to build such overlap in the sepulchres Temple of Inscriptions at Palenque and transverse corridors that separate the central building of the Palace of the Governor and the lateral extension at Uxmal. To increase the internal area Mayan architects blocked the room in the middle of the longitudinal wall. At the center of it was the door. In such an architectural building construction has overlapped two false arches, rests with one end in the middle, and the other on the outer wall.

In the classical period of the Maya introduced an innovation in the construction of bases (foundation) of their temples, ceremonial buildings and palaces. From the use of a simple platform, they moved to the so-called pyramids. However, unlike the ancient Egyptians, Mayans never really sought to achieve the pyramidal geometrical volume. Imposing a platform on one another, they were produced by a truncated form. On its four-sided top build small, most often two-or three-room temple. The number of benches, or articulation, which was divided by the body of the pyramid, it could be quite varied. From the foot of the pyramid to the door of the sanctuary usually led a long, steep and wide staircase. If the pyramid was very large, these stairs were located on all its four sides. The configuration of these pyramids are usually used for the construction of religious buildings on the tops of high hills. In Mayan any hill was the deification of natural forces. According to the beliefs of the Indians, it is on a hill lived rains, winds, rivers. They believed that the higher the hill, the closer to heaven. Therefore, the temple had to rush to the heavens, where the gods dwell.

A characteristic example of the Mayan temple architectural heyday civilization (late VII century), archaeologists and researchers believe the famous Sun Temple in Palenque. It was erected on a low pyramid, which is divided into five levels-stops. The temple itself is located on top of a truncated pyramid. It is oblong, small size of the building, which has an inner longitudinal wall. To the right and left ends of the adjacent two narrow segment front wall, and between them put two rectangular column. Thus, the facade is a sort of portico. Its pillars are decorated with reliefs shtukovymi. Exterior wall is cut through the three doors leading into the room where the little sanctuary. On the back wall of his bas-relief depicting the mask of the god of the sun. This mask is suspended on two crossed spears. Near them in an attitude of worship depicts two human figures. It is this part of the sanctuary sculpture has given rise to some researchers call this building in Palenque Temple of the Sun.

The flat roof of the temple is crowned roof ridge. He, like many other religious buildings Maya, reaches a considerable height. The crest consists of two converging in the top of the sharp angle of the walls, which have numerous openings that resemble windows. The wall surface is covered ridge rich geometric designs, centered on the image of the mythical beast. According to experts, the crest had no constructive function and served only to increase the overall height of the building. Temple of the Sun, from the point of view of architects, distinguished balance of all its parts, generosity and simplicity of outline. This is one of the most expressive and impressive architectural monuments Maya.

The main features of Mayan architecture, related to the construction of places of worship, can be traced back to the example of other urban centers that existed in the VII-IX centuries — Tikal, Piedras Negras, Uxmal, Yaxchilan, Copan, Quirigua. The differences can be detected only in the details. For example, the temple pyramids of Tikal, the largest city of the classical period, were very high, but had a relatively small base. In appearance they resembled the tower. The highest of them — the Pyramid Temple IV has a height of 45 m, and along with the temple and the decorative crest rises more than 70 meters (for comparison — this is the approximate height of modern dvadtsatietazhnogo building.)

Mayan builders perfectly felt the landscape. They cleverly away was on natural terraces. Architectural compositions relaxed manner fit in mountainous terrain. Modern architects plan affects Mayan settlements. The ancient city planners achieved remarkable poise parts built ensembles, their harmonious combinations. The important role played by the color contrast of the buildings and the environment. Maya architects covered the walls of the buildings white or a red piece. Against the background of a blue sky or a bright green tropical vegetation surrounding buildings, it made a special effect.

Category: Mystery stories

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