Edzná

Integration of the Puuc, Petén and Chenes styles in the capital of the Itzáesapital de los Itzáes

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It is located 55 kilometers east of the city of Campeche, in the municipality of Campeche, Campeche state

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The name Edzná, “House of the Itzáes”, comes from the Itzá, a lineage of Chontal origin. The Itzá were a group of Mayans who extended to various groups of native Putun and Chontal Indians in southeastern Campeche. Other translations have also been suggested: “House of the Eco” or “House of the Gestures”, in reference to the stucco figurehead thought to exist in the crest of the tallest building in the area. In its golden age, it appears that it was home to 25,000 inhabitants, distributed in an approximate area of 26 square kilometers. The city had numerous religious, administrative, and residential buildings, which were built in the three architectural Mayan styles of the area: Puuc, Petén, and Chenes.

The traveler strolls through the archaeological site of Edzná, to the south of Campeche, thinking that some cities are like immovable objects in time and that, in times such as our own, dominated by the idea of the present, taking a strolls like this a good idea, strolls that allow us to inhabit time, living, moving and walking inside it.

Founded around 400 B.C., its peak was reached during the late Classic period. A gradual decline began in the year 1000, leading to its eventual abandonment in 1450.

In 1906, the political chief of the former Campeche Party announced the existence of the site to the governor, but it wasn’t until 1927 that Nazario Quintana Bello, Monument Inspector for SEP, gave it the name Edzná.

The most important restoration to Edzná was carried out, under INAH sponsorship, between 1970 and 1976, by Román Piña Chan. The last works (1994-1997), were directed by Antonio Benavides, with Guatemalan laborers and bricklayers from the Quetzal- Edzná refugee camp, as well as the sponsorship of the European Union.

The site is lodged in the bottom of a valley which, during rainy season, used to flood. To solve the problem, a complex network of canals was built, which started in the center of the settlement and spread radially towards neighboring farmlands and towards a lagoon turned into a dam through retaining walls.

The canals were used to transport goods and people and, obviously, also served defensive functions. Thus, the territory’s agricultural exploitation was optimized and more intense than other places, which explains the importance the city once had.

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The most important monumental constructions lay on the Main plaza, which was accessed through two sacbés (Mayan roads).

The Great House, known locally as Nohochná, is a structure that was used for administrative functions, although it could have also have been used as a gallery to witness celebratory events in the Main plaza and the Great Acropolis.

The South Temple dates from between 600 to 900 A.D. and has 5 structures with demolished frames.

The Ball Court is comprised of two parallel structures, which were possibly used to place images of the deities associated with the game, as well as game equipment.

The best known structure, the Temple of the Large Masks, named due to the stucco masks that decorate it, is dedicated to the Solar god, who is represented with anthropomorphic characteristics and esthetic traits of the elite such as crossed-eyes, dental work, nose and ear rings, ear shells, and great zoomorphic headdresses.

Close by, the Small Acropolis is a structure dating back to 200 B.C., on its summit there are four buildings which form a central court. Some of the more ancient elements of Edzná come from this place: a large stucco figurehead of the Preclassic Superior, three stelae of the eighth Baktún (between 41 and 435 A.D.) and ceramics dated between 400 and 250 B.C.

The Large Acropolis has a wide quadrangular base, with several monumental structures. It emphasizes the Building of Five Flats, a five-level pyramid with numerous rooms and a cross-shaped sanctuary. The roof’s cresteria, which used to be decorated with stucco-modeled figures, has been preserved.

The extravagantly named “Magical Old Woman” is located 800 meters northwest of the Building of Five Flats. It is one of the largest structures in Edzná.

Lastly, the Puuc Courtyard and the North Temple deserve mention, with a wide stairway whose main axis led to two elongated centerlines, which were covered and decorated with panels holding small drums. Facing this temple is the C-shaped platform corresponding to the latest Edzná occupation: 1200-1400 A.D.

The most important features in Edzná are the 20 plus monumental buildings that tell us about the concentration of political, economic and religious power that occurred in pre-Columbian times, especially between 600 and 1200 A.D. Edzná was the regional capital, where the inhabitants built an ingenious canal system of up to 6 kilometers long, as well as deposits to capture, store, and distribute water, and the stone roads that connected some of the most important architectural groups.

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Edzná is located 55 km southeast of the city of Campeche. Access is through Federal Highway 180; at...

Edzná is located 55 km southeast of the city of Campeche. Access is through Federal Highway 180; at km 45 take the turn towards highway 261 that leads to the archaeological zone. Another route leading to the area is the highway that goes through the towns of Chiná Pocyaxum and Nohacal, 48 km away, departing from the city of Campeche.
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