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Ek Balam

Ek Balam

Ek’ Balam is a Yucatec-Maya archaeological site within the municipality of Temozón, Yucatán, Mexico. It lies in the Northern Maya lowlands, 25 kilometres (16 mi) north of Valladolid and 56 kilometres (35 mi) northeast of Chichen Itza. From the Preclassic until the Postclassic period, it was the seat of a Mayan kingdom.
The site is noted for the preservation of the plaster on the tomb of Ukit-Kan-Lek-Tok, a king buried in the side of the largest pyramid.
Ek’ Balam was occupied from the Middle Preclassic through the Postclassic, although it ceased to thrive as a major city past the Late Classic. Beginning in the Late Preclassic, the population grew and the city expanded throughout the following periods. It eventually became the capital of the polity that controlled the region around the beginning of the Common Era.
Ek’ Balam provides a rich resource of information for understanding northern Classic cities, due to the poor preservation of many other notable northern Maya sites (e.g. Coba,Izamal, and Edzna, founded by a Ek’ Balam, or Coch Cal Balam, who had come from the East. Later, the region was dominated by the aristocratic Cupul family.
The layout of the site is surrounded by two concentric walls which served as defense against attack. There were many smaller walls that snaked through the city as well. The inner wall encompasses an area of 9.55 hectares (23.6 acres). The carved stone of the inner wall, 2 metres (6.6 ft) tall and 3 metres (9.8 ft) wide, is covered in plaster; the outer wall serves purely for defense, as it is less substantial and less decorative. These walls were the largest in the Late Classic Yucatan, and seem to have a symbolic meaning of protection and military strength. Theories claiming a hasty desertion of the city are backed up by the fourth wall inside the city, which “bisects the Great Plaza, and, at less than a meter wide and made of poorly constructed rubble, it was clearly built as a last ditch effort at protection” against invading attackers
Only the center of Ek’ Balam has been excavated. Large, raised platforms line the interior wall, surrounding internal plazas. Sacbé roads stem off of the center in the four cardinal directions, an architectural allusion to the idea of a four-part cosmos These roads are often understood to have been sacred. The buildings were designed in the northern Petén architectural style, as were the surrounding large cities of the time, although it has its dissimilarities with them as well.
The Acropolis houses the tomb of king Ukit Kan Le’k Tok’, who ruled from 770 (the starting year of the “height” of this city) to 797 or 802 CE.
In rooms of the Acropolis, wall paintings consisting of texts have been found, amongst these the ‘Mural of the 96 Glyphs’, a masterwork of calligraphy comparable to the ‘Tablet of the 96 Glyphs’ from Palenque. Another wall painting of the Acropolis features a mythological scene with a hunted deer, which has been interpreted as the origin of death ,Ek’ Balam was rediscovered and explored first by influential archaeologist Désiré Charnay in the late 1800s but extensive excavation did not take place until a century later. Bill Ringle and George Bey III mapped the site in the late 1980s, and continued to do extensive research into the 1990s, their works being cited by many others who later write on the site.

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