Mayan Architecture: Tulum

Topics: Maya civilization, Maya peoples, Mesoamerican chronology Pages: 8 (2096 words) Published: October 8, 1999
Mayan Architecture &

The City of Tulum



II.The Mayan Civilization

A.Mayan Time Periods

B.Mayan Territory

C.Mayan Accomplishments

D.Mayan Collapse

III.Mayan Architecture


B.Tulum (Case Study)

1.Tulum's History

2.Tulum's Influences and Styles

3.Tulum's Design



2.Social Class Orientation



1.El Castillo

2.Temple of Frescos

3.Temple of the Wind

4.Temple of the Descending God

5.Temple of the Initial Series

6.House of the Haiach Uinic


In world history, the Ancient Mayan Civilization was dubbed the "Greeks of the New World." Through years of archaeological research, scientists have found that the ancient Mayans were a very advanced and very large civilization.

The Mayan Civilization

The entire Mayan Civilization lasted about 3000 years, but the peak of the Mayans was between AD 300 and AD 900. In the Mayan's history there were five main periods of "Mayan Civilization" according to Caren Caraway: the Pre-Classic Period (1500 BC – AD 200), the Early Classic Period (AD 200 – AD 625), the Fluorescence Period (AD 625 – AD 800), the Late Classic (AD 800 – AD 925), and finally the Post-Classic Period (AD 925 – AD 1540) (Caraway 2).

The Mayan Civilization consisted of 16 major communities ranging from 20,000 to 50,000 people in each. Mayan territory spanned from Southern Mexico to Northwestern Honduras but was mostly concentrated within the Yucatan Peninsula ("Maya (people)"). Through the ages of the Mayan Civilization, the migration of the Mayan people went from Southern Central Mexico to the Southeast side of the Yucatan peninsula and some parts of Northern Belize and Guatemala.

The Mayans were also a very advanced in the field of science. They had their own system of written language (hieroglyphics), their own unique astronomical observations, their unique (and first in the world) 365 day calendar, and most importantly to this report, their own unique architecture. The Mayans, unlike other European cultures, did not borrow ideas of religion, culture, art, or architecture from other civilizations (outside of the Yucatan Peninsula). Although other peoples from the Central American area influenced them, they did not steal architecture like the Greeks did from the Tuscans, the Romans did from the Greeks, etc.

The Mayan Civilization started to decline around AD 900 when most of the southern Maya started to abandon their cities. When the northern Maya were finally integrated into the Toltec society by A.D. 1200, the Maya dynasty finally came to a close, although some smaller cities continued to thrive until the Spanish Conquest in the early sixteenth century (Ruddell).

Mayan Architecture

Tulum lies on the coast of Quintana Roo, Mexico, which is on the eastern side of the Yucatan Peninsula. Tulum is different from most of the other Mayan cities because of its location, its defenses, and its time period.

The name "Tulum" means wall, although that was a name given by Mayan descendants much later. The name Zama was most likely the original Mayan name. It comes from a modification of the word "Zamal" (morning), associated with the dawn (Mureiko). My visit to Tulum in the early morning was quite an experience and an amazing view. It is no wonder they named the city "morning."

The meaning of "Tulum" stands true however. The city is surrounded on three sides by a fortified wall that reaches heights of 16 feet at the doorways. The fourth side is a 40-foot high cliff that overlooks the Caribbean reef and ocean. Because the city was constructed on a cliff, Tulum was/is the only large and significant Mayan coastal city.

Tulum was constructed during the Post-Classic Period (AD 925 – AD 1540), and was one of the last cities built by the Mayan people. It was constructed around the 12th century AD,...

Cited: Caraway, Caren. The Mayan Design Book. Owings Mills, Maryland: Stemmer House, 1981.
Kroll, Barb & Ron. "World of Maya Tulum has a dramatic locations overlooking the sun-drenched Mexican Yucatan." Toronto Star Newspapers: September 14, 1996, Section: Travel.
"Maya (people)." Microsoft Encarta 98 Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Microsoft Corporation, 1993-1997.
Mureiko, John C. "Mayan Sites." March 1, 2000 & .
Ruddell, Nancy. "Mystery of the Maya." Canadian Museum of Civilization, February 28, 2000 mminteng.html#menu>.
Stierlin, Henri. Living Architecture: Mayan. New York: Grosset & Dunlap, 1964.
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