Takalik Abaj - Site Description and Layout - Structures


The Ballcourt is located in the southwest of Terrace 2 and dates to the Middle Preclassic. It has a north–south alignment with the sides of the 4.6-metre (15 ft) wide playing area formed by Structures Sub-2 and Sub-4. The ballcourt is just over 22 metres (72 ft) long with a playing area of 105 square metres (1,130 sq ft). The southern limit of the ballcourt is formed by Structure Sub-1, just over 11 metres (36 ft) to the south of Structures Sub-2 and Sub-4, creating a southern end-zone that runs east–west and measures 23 by 11 metres (75 by 36 ft) with a surface area of 264 square metres (2,840 sq ft).

Structure 5 is a large pyramid on the west side of Terrace 3. It was largely built during the Middle Preclassic. It forms the western end of an alignment of three structures, the others being Structures 6 and 7.

Structure 6 is a stepped rectangular platform forming the middle of the alignment on Terrace 3. It was first built in the Middle Preclassic but reached is greatest extent during the Late Preclassic and the beginning of the Early Classic. It is one of the most important ceremonial structures in the Central Group.

Structure 7 is a large platform located to the east of the plaza on Terrace 3 in the Central Group and is considered to have been one of the most sacred buildings at Takalik Abaj due to a series of important finds associated with it. Structure 7 measures 79 by 112 metres (259 by 367 ft) and dates to the Middle Preclassic, although it did not attain its final form until the latter part of the Late Preclassic. Built upon the northern part of Structure 7 are two smaller structures, designated as Structures 7A and 7B. In the Late Classic, Structures 7, 7A and 7B were all refaced with stone. Structure 7 supports three rows of monuments aligned north–south that may have served as an astronomical observatory. One of these rows was aligned with the constellation Ursa Major in the Middle Preclassic, another aligned with Draco in the Late Preclassic, while the middle row was aligned with Structure 7A. Another important find in Structure 7 was a Late Classic cylindrical incensario given the name "La Niña" by archaeologists due to its prominent female appliqué figure. It dates to the earliest levels of K'iche' occupation of the site and is 50 centimetres (20 in) high and 30 centimetres (12 in) wide at the base. It was found together with a large quantity of other offerings including further ceramics and fragments of broken sculptures.

The Pink Structure (Estructura Rosada) was a small ceremonial platform built upon the central axis of Structure 7 before the latter was erected over it. It is believed that this substructure was in use at the same time as Olmec sculpture was being produced both at Takalik Abaj and at La Venta in the Olmec heartland of Veracruz in Mexico.

Structure 7A is a small structure sitting on top of the northern part of Structure 7. It dates to the Middle Preclassic and has been excavated. The Late Preclassic royal tomb known as Burial 1 was found in its centre. A large offering of hundreds of ceramic vessels was found in the base of the structure and is associated with the burial. Structure 7A underwent substantial rebuilding in the Early Classic and was again modified in the Late Classic. Structure 7A measures 13 by 23 metres (43 by 75 ft) and stands almost 1 metre (3.3 ft) high. Its four sides were dressed with standing stones surrounded by a pavement.

Structure 7B is a small structure situated on the eastern side of Structure 7. Like Structure 7A, the four sides were dressed with standing stones and were surrounded by a pavement.

Structure 8 is located to the southwest of the plaza on Terrace 3, immediately to the west of the access stairway. Five sculpted monuments were erected in a row at the base of the east side of the building; the four that have been excavated are Monument 30, Stela 34, Stela 35 and Altar 18.

Structure 11 has been excavated. It was covered with rounded boulders held together with clay. It is located to the west of the plaza in the southern area of the Central Group.

Structure 12 lies to the east of Structure 11. It has also been excavated and, like Structure 11, it is covered with rounded boulders held together with clay. It lies to the east of the plaza in the southern area of the Central Group. The structure is a three-tiered platform with stairways on the east and west sides. The visible remains date to the Early Classic but they overlie Late Preclassic construction. A row of sculptures lines the west side of the structure, including six monuments, a stela and an altar. Further monuments line the east side, one of which may be the head of a crocodilian, the others are plain. Sculpture 69 is located on the south side of the structure.

Structure 17 is located in the South Group, on the Santa Margarita plantation. It contained a Late Preclassic cache of 13 prismatic obsidian blades.

Structure 32 is located near the western edge of the West Group.

Structure 34 is in the West Group, at the eastern corner of Terrace 6.

Structures 38, 39, 42 and 43 are joined by low platforms on the east side of a plaza on Terrace 7, aligned north–south. Structures 40, 47 and 48 are on south, west and north sides of this plaza. Structures 49, 50, 51, 52 and 53 form a small group on the west side of the terrace, bordered on the north by Terrace 9. Structure 42 is the tallest structure in the North Group, measuring about 11.5 metres (38 ft) high. All of these structures are mounds.

Structure 46 is a mound at the edge of Terrace 8 in the North Group and dates from the Terminal Classic through to the Postclassic. The west side of the structure has been cut by a modern road.

Structure 54 is built upon Terrace 8, to the north of Structure 46, in the North Group. It is surrounded by an open area without mounds that was probably a mixed residential and agricultural area. It dates from the Terminal Classic through to the Postclassic.

Structure 57 is a large mound at the southern limit of the Central Group with an excellent view across the coastal plain. The structure was built in the Late Preclassic and underwent a second phase of construction in the Late Classic. It may have served as a look-out point.

Structure 61, Mound 61A and Mound 61B are all on the east side of Terrace 5, on the San Isidro plantation. Structure 61 was built during the Early Classic and is dressed with stone, it was built upon an earlier construction dating to the Late Preclassic. Stela 68 was found at the base of Mound 61A near to a broken altar. Structure 61 and its associated mounds may have been used to control access to the city during the height of its power, Mound 61A was reused during the Postclassic occupation of the site. Early Classic finds from Mound 61A include four ceramic vessels and four obsidian prismatic blades.

Structure 66 is located on Terrace 9, at the northern extreme of the North Group. It had an excellent view across the entire city and may have served as a sentry post controlling access to the site. It dates from the Terminal Classic through to the Postclassic.

Structure 67 is a large platform on Terrace 9 that may have been associated with a possible residential area upon that terrace and located to the north of the North Group.

Structure 68 is in the West Group. A part of the western side of the structure has been cut by a modern road. This has revealed a sequence of superimposed clay substructures dating to the Late Preclassic, the structure was then dressed with stone in the Early Classic.

Structure 86 is to the west of Structure 32, at the western edge of the West Group. The first phase of construction dates to the Early Classic, between 150 and 300 AD, when it took the form of a sunken patio, with stairways descending in the middle of its perimeter walls. At the centre of the patio were placed a clay altar and a stone, around which and across the rest of the patio were deposited an enormous number of offerings consisting of ceramic vessels, mostly from the Solano tradition.

North Ballcourt. The possible remains of a second ballcourt were found to the north of the North Group and may have been associated with the occupation of that group from the Terminal Classic through to the Postclassic. It was built from compacted clay and runs east–west, the North Structure was 2 metres (6.6 ft) tall and the South Structure had a height of 1 metre (3.3 ft), the playing area was 10 metres (33 ft) wide.

Read more about this topic:  Takalik Abaj, Site Description and Layout

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