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Monday, October 29, 2012

The Mayan Pyramid at Coba


During the week of October 20 th to the October 27 th of 2012, I went on vacation to the Yucatan peninsula.  So the next few blog posts that I do will be about observations, relating of activities, thoughts about aspects of my vacation.
One of the excursions I participated in was a visit to the Mayan Pyramid at Coba.

This archaeological site lay deep in the jungle and almost untouched until the 1970’s.  As part of a tourist initiative that started with the construction of the tourist hub in Cancun, the Mexican government built a road to Coba and cleared a section of the jungle to make a site for visitors.  Coba is still an active cutting edge modern archaeological site.  The visitors are allowed more direct contact to the ruins because generally they are more respectful of the ongoing archaeology of the site.  This site is less accessible than Chichen Itza and lacks some of the facilities found at Chichen Itza, but at Coba the visitors can still climb the Great Pyramid of Nohoch Mul, the highest Pyramid in the Yucatan Peninsula.  You also have virtually unrestricted access to many of the smaller but equally impressive ruins.

At the top of the Nohoch Mul Pyramid you get the view of a Mayan Priest over 1500 years ago.  The panoramic view of the top of the dense jungle in all directions with buildings and other pyramids poking up through the lush dense cover, with the entire area being completely flat the few bumps and rises in the landscape are other buildings which have not been excavated as of yet.  The Pyramid is only 124 steps to get to the top.  The steps rise at a steep angle to a height well above the canopy of the surrounding jungle.
It is believed Coba became a regional center of the Mayan’s towards the end of the Classic Period.  While the Mayan civilization in the south was collapsing, Coba continued to prosper through the first part of the Post Classic period.  The Classic Era is considered to be the time from 250AD to 900AD which saw the growth and spread of the Mayan culture throughout the entire region.  The site is believed to have supported 50,000 people at one time.  There is evidence there of some sort of trading posts, embassies for far away cultures and traders, but by the end of the 16 th Century Coba had already been abandoned.

A few of the buildings can be entered and have pathways leading into the interior.  Also several examples of the typical Mayan arch, unlike other areas of the world from that time like the Romans, their arch did not have a key stone.

Two of the Mayan ball courts for their game which still today is shrouded in mystery have been uncovered and restored at Coba.

Over fifteen hundred of these courts have been found all over central America.  I was very impressed with the carved stone rings sticking out of the tops of the structures at the top of the slanted section of stones making up each side of the arena.  With almost everything else being built with stones and having distinct edges seeing two elegantly carved rings attached to the stone seemed like a mid-evil marvel of skill and engineering.

The tour company we went with is called Al Tour Native, it is pronounced Alternative, and is a coop with the local Mayan villages and native communities to cater to Tourism and help support their communities.  The community we visited has water, electricity, a school house and some of the members of the community get to work in their community servicing the tourists on the excursion learning about the people and their culture, past – present – and the future.

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