Uaxactun (Waxactun)

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Uaxactun (Waxactun)

Uaxactun (Waxactun), a Formative and Classic period Maya site in northern Petén, Guatemala. It is located between Tikal and El Mirador, 25 miles north of Tikal, its largest neighbor. Uaxactun, situated between the watersheds for the Gulf of Mexico and those for the Caribbean, participated in the cross-peninsular trade routes. Investigations during the 1930s by the Carnegie Institution of Washington used the relationships between architecture, ceramics, and carved dated inscriptions to establish the first detailed chronology of the Maya area.

The earliest dated inscription is (about 328 ce) from Stela 9; the latest is (889 ce) on Stela 12. Uaxactun (eight stone) is a modern name based on the cycle-eight date of Stela 9. Although it may have initially been under the sway of El Mirador, in 358 ce ( Uaxactun first shows the Tikal emblem glyph (on Stela 5), indicating that by this time it was likely under the control of Tikal.

Excavation of Structure E-VII-sub by removal of rubble from a badly destroyed Classic pyramid uncovered a Late Formative truncated pyramid with stairways on four sides and a complete covering of molded stucco, including large masks beside the stairs. This important structure also formed the western element and viewpoint for a plaza with three carefully aligned pyramids along its eastern edge. Sunrise sightings from the eastern stairway of structure E-VII to one of the three structures on the eastern edge of the plaza permitted accurate determination of the solstices and equinoxes. This initial revelation led to further discoveries of astronomically aligned structures throughout the Maya area.

The site consists of major structures along low ridges surrounded by a dense concentration of house mounds. This concentration indicates that farming methods more intensive than slash-and-burn agriculture were practiced in the area.

Uaxactun is accessible by road via Flores and Tikal.

See alsoMaya, The .


Sylvanus G. Morley and George W. Brainerd, The Ancient Maya, 4th ed. (1983), pp. 293-296.

Linda Schele and David Freidel, A Forest of Kings (1990), esp. pp. 136-164.

                                  Walter R. T. Witschey