Yaxchilan (American Indians Ready Reference)
Yaxchilan was one of the most important Maya centers of the Classic period (150-900). Situated on a series of steep hills and terraces within a tight loop of the Usumacinta River in eastern Chiapas, Mexico, it was home to a powerful dynasty responsible for the erection of temples, palaces, and commemorative carvings. With its strategic and highly defensible location, it rose in prominence through acts of ritual warfare and sacrifice carried out by its leaders. Among the site's most important features are its numerous and well-preserved carvings with hieroglyphic inscriptions depicting the activities of nobility.
The ruling dynasty of Yaxchilan was founded in 320 by an ahau (ruler) named Jaguar Penis. He was succeeded by a line of ten descendants who ruled the center until sometime after 808. Yaxchilan was a powerful center of trade and military activities and had important relationships with Piedras Negras, Palenque, Bonampak, and Tikal.
The best documented events in the site's history took place during the reigns of rulers Shield Jaguar and Bird Jaguar, whose raids and ceremonies are commemorated on carved monuments. Shield Jaguar ascended to the throne in 681. At Temple 23, dedicated in 726, the undersides of carved lintels in the doorways depict sacred bloodletting rituals performed by his wife, Lady Xoc. In one, she is shown drawing blood from her tongue using a rope studded with thorns. In another, an ancestor reveals himself to...
(The entire section is 356 words.)
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