Tigre Pyramid

Tigre Pyramid rises to 11 stories, where the upper landing has three smaller structures on it. The center one raises the structure's height to 18 stories. The three structures represent a theme expressed repeatedly at El Mirador. Atop one, which is called the Tigre Temple, looters have penetrated two rooms Diggings exposed well-preserved stairways and large stucco sculptures with part-human and part-jaguar features-a human-like head flanked by jaguar paws, coupled with ear flares and knotted bundles. These symbols are part of an incipient writing system. This is an assumption in deciphering Classic hieroglyphs in which similar symbols have been found in repeated contexts.

The Tigre Complex is flanked on the south by Monos, a 40-meter-high complex of buildings and a plaza. Monos was named for the large, raucous howler monkey and covers nearly 17,000 square meters. Directly east of the Tigre Complex, and adjoining it, stands the great Central Acropolis and Central Plaza group. The Central Plaza was a grand setting for rituals and ceremonies.

One can imagine solemn rites with plumed dignitaries. Conch trumpet and drums sound. An elder steps forward proclaiming the birth of a male heir. A servant girl holds up the infant, who is barely visible in his soft wrapping. The assembled multitude-officials, relatives, servants, and others-cries out approval .... The meaning of this place is clear. Here was the heart of lL Mirador, for the most important events: declarations of war, ostracizing dissidents, imposing of tributes, religious ceremonies. A newly installed ruler would show his affinity with the gods -by cutting and bleeding himself before the people.

The Central Acropolis which is more than 300 meters long, A wide stairway fronts center of the acropolis, running from plaza. To the first level. The stairs were constructed with great skill . Cut limestone blocks were uniformly shaped with stone instruments and carefully, fitted, set with lime mortar, then plastered with a lime stucco skillfully finished for durability. A coating of red paint, a mixture of crushed hematite was applied.


At the top of the stairs an altar platform. It has 12 large, finely finished slabs set on the north and south faces. These slabs are about the size of carved stelae discovered in cities, which herald occasions such as birth, death, accession to power. But the acropolis stelae slabs are blank. They once may have been painted with figures and other symbols as memory of an event. These stelae attest that this was the most important section of El Mirador.

The Central Acropolis and Central Plaza were the focal area of what was the Sacred Precinct. Religious and other ceremonies occurred at Tigre and at other complexes. A number of dwelling mounds that have been identified . The rich and the powerful resided in choice places, probably nearest the large public buildings and temples. The residence consists of several buildings set in a compound surrounding a plaza. Every room displays carefully cut stone, precise use of mortar, stucco covering, and red paint. Each room is reached from the plaza level by a stuccoed stairway. Rooms have wide entryways, benches, convenient steps to different levels, and at least one room has a wide window in the back wall. Stucco sculpturing exists in some rooms.

The Chicleros are masters of name-giving. They named Danta Pyramid, the highest structure on the site, after the large and powerful tapir. The Danta Complex and its pyramid sit on the eastern edge of the city, somewhat apart from Tigre and the other complexes. . Though slightly smaller than the 18-story Tigre Pyramid, its top rises 45 meters higher since it stands upon a hill. The two pyramids oppose one another Tigre greets the morning sun; Danta observes the setting sun. Maya obsession with the sun and its cycle. The Maya regarded themselves as "keepers of the sun,"

The central building rises at a steep angle for 21 meters. Climbing, from here the central structure rose another 21 meters. This final ascent was by far the hardest, the angle being 80 degrees as the surfaces deteriorated. When you reached the peak, it is a magnificent panorama. Unbroken forest spread as far as the eye could reach. The loneliness of the forest and the isolation of El Mirador stricks you.Water was life! The city itself was a huge catchment area and so had to be kept clean. All took enormous effort.

What made the Maya first settle here? And why did they then construct such a great city? Unlike most large Maya sites, El Mirador has no lake, river, or seacoast at hand. There are few natural resources, only the limestone rock for building, the forest for fuel. Today the area is unpopulated. And what caused the collapse of this and other cities? Some catastrophic event?

Rio Azul

Crystallotus Home | E-zine

Unauthorized reproduction is prohibited.