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LABNÁ ARCHEOLOGICAL ZONE                                        Printer friendly version


Found in the uitze or lomerío region. Labná or “Old House” in Maya is remarkable for the arch that has been described as one of the architectonic jewels of the classic development of the Puuc. Once a city of some 1.500 to 2.500 people, inhabited between 750 to 1000 AD.

Presently four buildings are in a restored state. Notice the caretakers open thatched roof home as you enter the site. The palace at this site has 70 chultunes (water cisterns) that are not visible. There is also an artistically intricate arch at this site.

The arch at Labná has become one of the main images used when companies wish to portray something "Mayan." It is located at the foot of El Mirador, and is on the opposite side of the city to where tourists enter the site.

Measuring about 42 feet wide and standing 20 feet high, the arch shows one of the definitive architectural "fingerprints" of the Mayan people, namely the Mayan or Corbelled Archway. The arch once served as the entrance to the city and has a small room on one side where a guard on sentry might found shelter from the elements. Both sides of the arch are richly carved in the Classic Puuc style.

The Main Facade (the one that faces towards the interior of the city) is decorated in a style that is similar to the Nunnery Quadrangle in
Uxmal. That is, in each of the small doorways that acted as guard houses have a sculpture over it called a Xanil Nah, which was essentially a stone representation of a the thatched roof hut that the Maya used as living quarters. These stone huts are overlapping a cross-hatched "X" design similar to overlapping long parallel poles in an "X" pattern to signify a house, or in this case, the arch, as having a special function. This face also has a Chaac mask on the north-west corner of the frieze.

Either side of the doorway on the External Facade has two square spiraling Muyal or “Cloud” scrolls marking this building as a community or cloud house, thereby welcoming visitors into the city. Between the cloud symbols are the stone columns that are said to represent petrified trees.

When first uncovered by John Stephens in 1840, the Mirador was not in much better shape than it is today, though some restorations and reinforcing has been done to prevent collapse. It appeared to him as a huge ruined mound with only the roof comb marking it as being part of a man made structure. The roof comb stands out in the city as it is composed of many jottings and out croppings that at one point held portions of statues and other stone carved decorations. In Stephens' time there were still arms, legs and torsos attached to the comb and in the ruined fragments that littered the base of the mound. These statues have either been reconstructed and removed from the site, or they have long since been stolen.

Stephen's observed a colossal figure over the center point of the wall over the surviving door that we now know was of a Mayan goddess. The wall also shows two figures that we know to be ball players with a ball between them. It is interesting to note that most texts tell us that "No evidence of the ball ever being touched or caught with the hands tells us that the ball could not be touched", yet in his descriptions Stephens is quite specific in telling us that one figure is holding the ball while the other seems to be supporting it from beneath.

El Mirador is also sometimes called "El Castillo."

The Great Palace at Labná is very similar in design and function to the Palace of Sayil. Constructed in the Classic Puuc style, it consisted of vaulted rooms over at least two levels, with stone columns (meant to represent petrified trees) and Chaac masks throughout.

There is a long Pathway from the center of The Great Palace that leads to the Labná Arch. This appears to indicate that visitors would pass through the main gate (The Labná Arch) and would be required to pass by The Great Palace where royalty and the higher political ranks of the city would meet.

Located east of The Great Palace at Labná, this single structure with five doorways facing the center of the city is another example of the Classic Puuc construction style.

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Yucatan, Labna, Archeological zone, Puuc Route, Arch - Photo by  German Murillo-Echavarria 0405

The Arch at Labná

Yucatan, Labna, Archeological zone, Puuc Route, Mirador - Photo by  German Murillo-Echavarria 0405
The Mirador at Labná
Yucatan, Labna, Archeological zone, Puuc Route, Great Palace, Arch  - Photo by  German Murillo-Echavarria 0405
The Great Palace at Labná