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Rio Azul


Sak Há Witznal (Clear Water Mountain) its real name, was occupied from 900 BC to 850 AC. It is located 80 Km north east from Tikal, The Río Azul National park, that along with The Mirador Basin, forms part of the Maya Biosphere Reserve,  has several Classic and Pre Classic sites the most important being Río Azul, that is a Major Early Classic site, along the Río Azul banks. About A.D. 385, the Río Azul region was conquered and the city founded by Tikal. Nearly all of the main structures found within Río Azul were erected between A.D. 390 and 530.

 Dams (the largest in the Maya area), canals, and fortifications are distributed along the shores of this river. It was build in 25 years and the population of the polity area  measuring some 170  Km2. including Kinal and other cities, is thought to be 400,000 around 400 AD.  It was occupied since middle pre classic to middle classic, the site core is 3 Km2, with 41 plazas, 752 Structures, including a ball court, 21 Sculptured Stelas, 26 Plain Stelas, and 16 altars documented to date, the tallest Temple is 47 m. High, is a typical Preclassic Triadic Temple (Three small structures  Atop, the one in the center at the back and the others facing each other).  Stela 1 mention the alliance with Tikal, and Stela 2 records the visit of the King of La Milpa (now in Belize), the Rio Azul polity area was around 170  Km2 and was structured as a feudal state where nobility lived in farms around the city. The elaborate complexes and sumptuous artifacts suggest a city with a heavy proportion of aristocratic families and retainers. Its most natable feature amongst its almost 5000 structures are its richly decorated tombs.

 This city had strong ties with Naachtún to the west, due to royal weddings. Among other findings, there was found  a pot with a screw for a lid, also, it is world renown for a sepulture (bearing 1) with beautiful Art decoration (400 AD), in bearing 12, there are also murals with the cardinal points perfectly aligned and representing the Moon (north), the Sun (east), Venus (south), and the Darkness (west), it was abandoned by 535 AD,  and reoccupied in the terminal classic without any major architecture from that time, only 3 stelas are from this period.

Sites Nearby

A Damn and irrigation canals system, perhaps the most sophisticated in the Maya world has been the focus of several researches about Maya Agriculture systems.   Acres of pavement were laid down around the complexes of residences, temples, and tombs notable for the brightly painted red hieroglyphs and murals on their walls.  Around A.D. 530, Río Azul appears to have

been suddenly destroyed. The city was abandoned, then reoccupied--only to stagnate and finally its collapse, like many other Classic Maya cities, in the late ninth century. Remains in the Río Azul area date from 900Ear Flare, depicting Itzam Yeh (Vucub Caquix) B.C. to A.D. 850. The data indicate that, unlike most Maya cities that have been studied, Río Azul was a frontier town, an administrative center, with alternating defense and trade outpost functions. About A.D. 385, the Río Azul region was conquered and the city founded by Tikal, serving as a  garrison for that capital.

To go there, you will have to go to Uaxactún, and drive in 4x4 around 5 hours; you can also go from Melchor de Mencos (6 hours) The visit to Kinal is worthwhile and is only a 1 hour hike at the most (4 m.)


Hieroglyphs representing the Jester God  in Río Azul Tomb 19

Site Map

Tomb 19

Tomb 2 (It shows the Long Count date of, or September 29, A.D. 417, most likely the birth date of a ruler of Río Azul, often referred to by archaeologists as “Ruler X)

Tomb 12

Structure A15

Rio Azul Vase Rollout

Tomb 23

Blue Jade Mask (Representing Kinich Ahau the
Sun God), in Sak Balam's grave

Tomb 1

Pot in Tomb 19

Chocolate Pot

Jade Skulls Necklace Tomb19

Fuchsite Funeral  Mask

Vase Glyph about Río Azul Polity

Rio Azul Metal Earflares in Chan Ak Tomb 480 AD

Vase with Rio Azul Emblem Glyph

Pots Tomb 19

Tomb 1, Stinger God

Main Temple's Roof comb decoration  and Glyphs ,

Lady Tz'utz Nik' returns from
Tikal to bury her grandfather Chan Ak, king of Rio Azul.

Main Temple Tomb entrance



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