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Mayan Roads of the Yucatan

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Janissary
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    Posted: 20 Feb 2012 at 06:27
Many cities of the Yucatan Maya, and other sacred sites, were connected with a network of raised stone roads. Remnants of these Sacbeob or 'white ways' can be seen today at the Maya cities of Chichen Itza, Coba, Uxmal and others. Some of them have been incorporated into modern roadways, but most of them have been covered with jungle and are hidden from view. The roads were mostly built with limestone blocks and rubble fill, coated with a white limestone stucco. They generally are elevated from 1 to 1.5 meters and were leveled, which must have taken intense effort and seems to highlight the symbolic aspect of them. Used heavily for commerce and travel, the roads were also very sacred to the Maya.
Spanish chroniclers left records of these roads, Diego Lopez Cogolludo recorded in 1688, "There are remains of paved highways which transverse all this kingdom and they say they ended on the east on the seashore...so that they may arrive at Cozumel for the fulfillment of their vows, to offer their sacrifice, to ask for help in their needs, and for the mistaken adoration of their false Gods".
Considering that the Maya had no beasts of burden or even used wheeled carts, the spiritual importance of these labor-intensive and carefully built roads, is easily highlighted. At the ends of some roads, such as at Labna and at Kabah, large arches were built with religious iconography. Having walked one of the sacbe at Coba, which runs 62 miles to the city of Yaxuna, I can assert the amazing aspect of these ancient highways.


The Arch at the terminus at Kabah:


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