Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Yucatán, December 2008

A year ago this month, I was in Mexico.

Here are the photos.

This was my first trip to Mexico, my first exposure to the Mayan culture. In grad school I read Charles C. Mann's 1491, and learned most of what little I know about the Mayan culture. As good as the book is, it was one thing for me to understand from an intellectual perspective the depth and breadth of historic Myan culture, and quite another actually to visit the historic sites -- Chichén Itzá, Uxmal, Ek Balam, etc. -- and gain an understanding of how technologically and socially developed* the culture was and how dense it was packed.

As with the vast majority of preserved historic sites of this kind (Ancient Egyptian, Roman, Greek, Persian, Chinese, Indian, etc.), what the present-day visitor sees is, largely, the monumental, public, and ruling-class architecture. It would be fascinating to see some of these sites restored to some degree with the color, vibrancy, and multi-class life that they once teemed with.

Nevertheless, to stand atop the main pyramind in Ek Balam and look across the dense, flat Yucatán landscape and see other pyramids way off in the distance was absolutely amazing.

* "developed" is a problematic, value-laden word, but "advanced" even more so . . . what other word works here?


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