Maya and Aztec

Ancient Mesoamerican civilizations

Prehispanic monuments at Uxmal free of humidity

Category: News reports

INAH, Uxmal, Yucatan, March 30, 2009. Removal of the old lighting system installed more than 30 years ago at Uxmal Archaeological Zone in Yucatan, has allowed resolving humidity issues that several Prehispanic monuments presented, representing collapse danger. Actions taken guarantee better preservation state of the buildings.

National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) specialists conduct chores that include a new lighting system, approved by the Archaeology Council, which would not affect Maya monuments. During February and March 2009, archaeologists, architects and engineers removed the concrete manholes and metallic covers installed as part of the lighting and sound system in the 1970’s decade, which operated since then until January 2009. Experts eliminated meticulously manholes and modern concrete floors near the main buildings of the archaeological site, such as the Great Pyramid, the Sorcerer’s Temple, the Governor’s Palace and the Nuns’ Quadrangle.

Jose Huchim Herrera, Uxmal Archaeological Project director, informed that these works have allowed defeating humidity problems that structures presented, provoked by water leaking into the core through fissures of modern floors. “Now the architectonic conjunct undergoes a slow drying process, to be followed by integral restoration”. The same method is being applied at the southern buildings of the quadrangle, being carried out gradually in the rest of the Maya monuments. Huchim, also a researcher at the Yucatan INAH Center, remarked that these actions are part of the Maintenance Program of the buildings, conducted by the Institute since 1991, which has contributed to preserve this important cultural heritage.

The emblematic Sorcerer’s Temple, iconic sample of Puuc architecture, is an example of this permanent work; after Gilbert hurricane damage, structural problematic caused by humidity has been reverted. Archaeologist Jose Huchim pointed out that removing the old lamp system did not implied opening new trenches, being the existing ones adapted and narrowed from 120 to 75 centimeters. “Not to open new trenches was one of the conditions the Archaeology Council to authorize the Lamp Actualization Project in Uxmal”, declared the archaeologist. The archaeologist specified that none of the floors removed was Prehispanic, being all made out of concrete. The Great Pyramid floor was eliminated because it caused humidity to leak into the interior of the structure; the number of manholes to contain lamps was reduced from 54 to 4.

Jose Huchim Herrera remarked it was during this work that the top of a Prehispanic frieze was found at the Great Pyramid. It is the façade of an earlier building in the construction also known as Guacamayas’ Temple, dated between 250 and 500 AD. “We detected the top of a wall, a frieze, and proceeded to explore to determine its dimension. We found its’ start and concluded it is a 4 meters long wall, with rests of red-painted stucco that corresponded to the façade of an ancient palace-type building that had several rooms. After the photographic, mapping and drawn register, the wall was covered again to conduct studies later” declared the archaeologist when referring that this wall brings in new data regarding history of ancient Maya architecture.

Architect Antonio Vega, man in charge of the Historic Monuments Area at Yucatan INAH Center, explained that the newest technology is to be used to replace the lighting system, so it represents no harm to cultural heritage. A cold light system controlled by distance that allows enhancing reliefs’ details would be used. Huchim Herrera remarked that the lighting system replacement project has been conducted with ethic, responsibility and professionalism, in strict compliance with archaeology and restoration norms, since Uxmal is part of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNECO) World Cultural Heritage List since 1996.

Source: INAH

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