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Bonampak Lineage Might Have Come from Plan de Ayutla, Chiapas
Structure 13. Northern acropolis, Plan de Ayutla archaeological zone. Photo: DMC INAH/ H. Montano.

MEXICO CITY.- Recent explorations conducted by experts from the National Institute of Anthropology and History (INAH) point out that Plan de Ayutla Archaeological Site, in Chiapas, could have been the political center where the lineage that founded Bonampak originated,more than 1,400 years ago. This hypothesis is based on interpretation of inscriptions at different monuments.

The archaeological zone that will be open to public before 2012, according to the compromise of President Felipe Calderon, could have been in Prehispanic times one of the legendary cities didentified by epigraphic as Sak T’zi or Ak’e.

The first hypothesis regarding Plan de Ayutla identity points out that it might have been Sak T’zi, city that between 600 and 800 AD struggled with Maya metropolis of Tonina, Piedras Negras and Yaxchilan, informed archaeologist Luis Alberto Martos.

The site located in Ocosingo municipality “is key to understand development and political integration in Bonampak and Lacanha”, commented Martos, director of Plan de Ayutla Archaeological Project.

Sak T’zi (white dog in Maya) was described in different carved monuments, such as Lintel 2 at Yaxchilan were the defeat of the city by Yaxchilan and Bonampak, in 787 AD, is described.

According to inscriptions, Luis Alberto Martos recalled, “it must have been a site bigger than Bonampak but smaller than Yaxchilan. Some authors have traced its area of influence between seigniories of Yaxchilan, Bonampak, Piedras Negras, Tonina and Palenque, and given its features, Plan de Ayutla might have been Sak T’zi”.

“One of Sak T’zi rulers, K’ab Chan Te (the one who holds the sky), named himself seignior of 2 katunes, corresponding to 40 years approximately in our calendar, and warrior at the ballgame; this means ballgame was important at Sak T’zi.”

The aforementioned data makes sense if we consider the greatest ballgame court of High Usumacinta region is at Plan de Ayutla. Located at the center of the city, it measures, including the structures that limit it, 85 meters long and 40 wide. It has enclosed end-zones and is covered with slabs.

The second theory refers to Plan de Ayutla as the ancient city of Ak’e; Martos, also head of INAH Direction of Archaeological Studies, pointed out that this ancient political center was subordinated to Tonina in different stages.

We find at Plan de Ayutla architectural elements similar to those at Tonina, such as the aforementioned ballgame court, the frets that adorn Structure 13, and the frequent use of column altars, which could indicate this is ancient Ak’e, which means turtle in Maya.

Nearness with Bonampak (only 25 kilometers away) points out that if this is the ancient Ak’e, from where the founding lineage of Bonampak came from. Apparently, the dynasty moved out taking with them the “Ak’e” emblem glyph.

Dr. Luis Alberto Martos remarked neither place has been archaeologically located but, according to epigraphic studies, both were important in the history of the High Usumacinta region.

Archaeological evidence reveals there was human occupation at Plan de Ayutla since 150 BC, although its history as an integrated city began 100 or 150 years later. Regardless most of Usumacinta cities were abandoned towards 800-850 AD, material dated from 1000 AD have been located, which indicates the relevance of the site.

Part of the Sierra de Jalapa region, near the Biosphere Reserve of Montes Azules, this Maya site has particular features that provide its character, such as monumentality and quality of the Usumacinta style buildings.

Archaeologist Luis Alberto Martos remarked that Structure 13, located at Acropolis Norte, has the form of a hut. “It is a superb construction with two 8-meters-high roofed spans, an unusual feature in the region. Apparently, it was an observatory, since, from mid July (beginning of Maya calendar), it marks the zenithal passing of the Sun.

National Institute of Anthropology and History | Mexico | President Felipe Calderon | Bonampak Lineage | Chiapas |

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