Tuesday, 26 February 2008

Catherwood in Yucatan

In 1841 John L.Stephens arrived in Yucatan with the artist William Catherwood. They had prevously visited Maya cities in the highland region and published their account in Incidents of travel in Central America, Chiapas and Yucatan. The account of their second exploration appeared in 1843 under the title Incidents of travel in Yucatan and it provided for many sites the earliest accurate descriptions and pictures of the remains, which in many instances were cleared from the jungle for the first time for their survey.

During our journey in 2008 we tried to discover the same spots where some of Catherwood's drawings had been made to see how the ruins had survived. It was not possible in all instances as areas of the sites were closed to visitors, but the following "then and now" pictures give an intersting insight into how researchers have been able to reconstruct and consolidate the structures.


It was not possible to reproduce the panoramic view of the Governor's Palace from a distance, so an oblique view of the facade was taken.

The House of the Turtles, Uxmal shows some reconstruction but the building was substantially intact in 1841.

This section of the Nunnery, west front in Uxmal shows that considerable reconstruction has taken place since 1841.

Another section of the west front of the Nunnery in Uxmal also shows much reconstruction.

Two views of one end of the Nunnery, Uxmal

It was not possible to identify this corbelled arch in Uxmal, but many similar examples can be found. This double corbelled arch is in the Pigeon Quadrangle.

Arch, Labná
Palace from causeway, Labná
Palace, Kabah
House of Chultun
Chichen Itza
Panorama of ballcourt from south

It was not possible to obtain this distant view over the Plaza of the Thousand Columns but some indication of the present state of this part of the site is given by this view of the colonnade by the Temple of the Warriors