Calakmul Mayan ruins/ archaeological site, Campeche Mexico
Calakmul Biosphere Reserve
World Heritage status awarded in 2002 as a cultural or natural site which deserves protection for the benefit of all humanity. In addition to Calakmul's archaeological significance, it is also know as a refuge for birds with over 235 species of birds, of which 76% are residents and 24% migratory birds, residing in either summer or winter.
Due to Calakmul's location in the geographic center of the Maya region (the "Petén") it received cultural influences from both north and south. Calakmul along with the Maya sites of El Mirador, Nakbé, and Uaxactún, formed a coalition during the Formative period, constantly engaging in conflicts with its southern neighbors, especially Tikal. Calakmul remained a rival to Tikal from that time on.
Like the majority of great Classic period centers of the southern Maya lowlands, Calakmul eventually arrived at a decline. Nevertheless, a political reorientation during the middle of the Late Classic period allowed Calakmul to take part in northern traditions, and as a result, it was able to take advantage of the regions prosperity. During the Pre-classic period activity was mainly of a ceremonial nature. The presence of offerings in Calakmul buildings, such as that of effigy incensories, evidence human activity, dating until the Late Postclassic period, in the Peten region of Campeche.
The high temples provide spectacular views of Calakmul. Climb the stairways with caution
Numerous plaques describe the architectural and historic significance of the temples
Be sure to carry sufficient water with you, available at the entrance to the ruins
Another high view showing a raised platform "step" in this pyramid's construction
Kay takes a breather at the base of a temple. Please read more about Calakmul's history below
History & architecture
Calakmul evidences an uninterrupted architectural sequence which extends across fourteen centuries (550 B.C. - 900 A.D.). Its outstanding architecture includes figures sculpted in stone and modeled in stucco. Other noteworthy features of the site are a great quantity of stelae and dated monuments, upon which the history of Calakmul's rulers is recorded.
Toward the end of the Middle Pre-classic period (700 - 300 B.C.), in the Maya region, important public urban works were undertaken. During this period the largest structures of Calakmul's history were constructed. This was also when the site's first public architecture appeared, marking an effort to define administrative activities.
During the 5th century in Calakmul, extensive remodeling was initiated, although this activity did not include a modification of the city's urban plan, which was established in the Pre-classic period. Among these works is the noteworthy remodeling of the great foundation of Structure II.
The rulers who inherited the throne of Calakmul initiated public as well as private urban works, such as palatial complexes, in various sectors of the city. They built structures to be used in artistic production and specialized craftsmanship. It was here where members of the royal lineage ordered the making of ceramics and other objects used in rituals. It is likely that toward the end of the Late Classic period (600-800 A.D.), a series of reforms and public works were initiated, changing the city's image.
The peak of greatest prosperity in Calakmul occurred during the Late Classic period, during which the majority of monuments, known as smooth stelae (or estelas lisas) were erected in the Great Plaza. Construction at the time, however, was restricted to minor remodeling. This era's high yield with regard to ceramic production, along with that of the Early Classic period, indicate that both periods represent times of greatest human population at the site.