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Piedras Negras

Piedras Negras Gallery

Piedras Negras is the modern name for  the largest Maya Kingdom in the Usumacinta River area, located on the north bank of the Usumacinta River and surrounded by several sites, on the Sierra del Lacandón National Park in western Petén, Guatemala. It is also the largest Maya site to the west of Tikal, including Palenque. The name "Piedras Negras" that means "Black Stones", was given due to the color of the stones used in this site. Its ancient  name was Yo’ki’b ("Great Gateway" or "The Entrance").  Due to the largest Cenote (sinkhole), in Mesoamerica, it is some 120 m, in diameter and 100 m, deep, now dry, recently discovered near this site.

 There is a group of persons that associate this site as the place were the people from Atlantis hide its knowledge documents. (Based inStela 12 Edgar Cayce's readings, which indicated that Piedras Negras was the location of an Atlantean Hall of Records placed there around 10,000 B.C. see: http://www.mysterious-america.net

Some authors think that the name is Paw Stone, but is more likely to be the name of the founder as hieroglyphs on Throne 1 and altar 4 shows. In its texts, they Thorne 1, Museo Nacional, Guatemalamention strong ties with the Hix Witz Polity, now known to be  the cities of La Joyanca, Pajaral and Zapote Bobal, as well as Waka', along the San Pedro river, controlling the two main commerce routes: The Usumacinta and the San Pedro rivers drainage. Its Emblem Glyph have been documented at several important Maya sites, including Tikal

Piedras Negras is one of the largest Classic Maya sites, but  its becoming a new Lost City, hardly some scholars and adventurous tourist visit it. The Site seemsEarly Classic Figurine in Throne to have been an independent city-state for most of the Classic Period, although sometimes in alliance with other states of the region. Ceramics shows that the site was occupied from 700 BC to 850 AD, Middle Preclassic ceramics (ca 600-400 B.C.) are rare within the center, often located as Maya Commerce Routespockets on the bedrock in the South Group. Architecture from this period includes the first known public buildings with the erection of a modest platform (R-32) and a small public building on it with squared facing stones and a polished stucco floor (R-3-3rd). Late Preclassic (400 B.C.-100 A.D.) material is also sparse within the center, and in the regions round about. This gives the impression of the continuance of a modest village with little growth. R-3 continues as a public structure and is elevated to a height of 3 meters, showing that there was some concern at Piedras Negras with constructing public buildings, and perhaps a forerunner to monumental display. During the Classic, Piedras Negras had at least 7 sweat baths for ceremonial and medical uses.

K5 Temple

Piedras Negras
Central Area Site Map

Sweatbath  Str P 7

Acrópolis (Proskuriakoff)

Jaguar bird St3
Ruler Names from Piedras Negras

The difficulty with reconstructing life during this period corresponds to the paucity of remains as only a few areas within the center have ceramics from Preclassic periods. Early Classic (ca. A.D. 250-550) settlement began with the same village feel, but ends with monumental architecture already in place. Monumental architecture during the end of this period takes advantage of natural hillsides to provide structure behind the façades of buildings faced with large Stela 14, Proskuriakoff's key to decipher Maya Writtingregular stones and well-plastered floors. Most buildings show a single large construction episode with a few subsequent minor additions. The end of this period also marks the emergence of history at Piedras Negras with the advent of named lords in the inscriptions  but its most impressive period of sculpture andStela 3 architecture dated from about 608 through 810, although there is some evidence that Piedras Negras was already a city of some importance since 400 AD. The extensive ruins of Piedras Negras have been classified into three architectural units: the west group atop a hill, (site of the main Acropolis), the east group and the south group. The structures of these groups are all situated around open plazas and consist of typical Maya monuments: temple-pyramids, 2 ball courts and 7 sweat baths, including one in a cave. There are some stone spheres foot to two feet in diameter, similar to the ones found in Costa Rica.

Syela 11The artistry of the sculpture of the late classic period of Piedras Negras is considered particularly fine, and the most sophisticated in the Maya Culture. The site has 2 ball courts and several Plazas, there are Vaulted Palaces and Temple Pyramids, including one that is connected to one of the many caves in the site. A unique feature of the monuments at Piedras Negras is the frequent occurrence of the so-called "artists' signatures". Individual artists have been identified by the use of recurring glyphs on stelas and other relief.  In the U-group two households are remarkable,. One appears to be the residence of the master carver under Ruler 7; and the other, a small household that might have specialized in the production of lithic tools, mainly obsidian imported from El Chayal, near Kaminal Juyú, and Amate bark paper. Warfare mainly with Yaxchilan to the south, have been documented.

 Along the banks of the Usumacinta river is a large boulder with the emblem glyph of Yo’ki’b ( Piedras Negras),  carved on it and facing skyward, This city had the dominance in the commerce route in the Usumacinta Basin.

Emblem Glyph

Before the site was abandoned, some monuments were deliberately damaged, including images and glyphs of rulers defaced, but images and glyphs of deities left intact, suggesting a revolt or conquest by people literate in Maya writing. Little is known of the early dynastic rulers of Piedras Negras, except through several well preserved monuments and sculptured inscriptions on various Stelas that provided key evidence. The noted Russian scholar, Tatiana Proskouriakoff (1909-1985), studied and illustrated Piedras Negras in depth, She indeed broke the complex code of Maya writing here, in 1950. She was buried there in the F group, a plaque in her honor shows her tomb.



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Last updated 28/01/2011 17:07:34 -0500
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