Excavations Challenge Views of Maya Development in Yucatán

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Evidence from some burial sites at Chac, he added, suggests that foreign traders of middle-level social status—perhaps a group from Teotihuacan responsible for maintaining long-distance contacts—may have lived in Chac.

The discovery of 19 burial sites from residential groups at Chac shows pottery and mortuary patterns typical of Teotihuacan people residing in foreign settlements. Thirteen of the burials were found in a large substructure dating to the Middle Classic period, with certain architectural characteristics reminiscent of residential apartment compounds from Teotihuacan.

Many Serpent Images

Chac, which may have been named after the Maya rain god Chac, is located near the ancient sites of Uxmal and Sayil in the Yucatán Peninsula.

Exploration of a 60-foot-tall pyramid at Chac has revealed two earlier pyramids that lie beneath. Numerous substructures have been discovered beneath other buildings excavated at the site.

The layout of the site and orientation of the buildings, which follow Central Mexican conventions, and stylistic elements, such as sloping walls and recessed panels incorporated into Maya architecture, suggest the residents of Chac were familiar with Teotihuacan symbolism.

Even more compelling, said Smyth, are the many examples of early serpent imagery found at the site's great pyramid. Serpents are more reminiscent of architecture at Teotihuacan than the decorative elements typically found on early Puuc buildings.

Also, a small, hemispherical vessel recovered at the foot of one of the earlier pyramids shows decoration strikingly similar to renderings of the earth goddess found at Teotihuacan.

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