Saturday, October 06, 2007

@#*!&@# Sacbe Mixtu’ux

So many of you who tune into the same Bat Channel at the same Bat Time each week are already familiar with the term sacbe. For those of you who are not, a sacbe is essentially a Maya road, or raised causeway. The Classic period Maya built many of these sacbes, particularly here in the north, one of which is more than 100 kilometers long. But not all sacbes were built to go between cities, many more were built as pathways between prominent structures within a site. Prior to this season seven such internal sacbes were known at Xtobo. There are five which connect with the site’s central plaza and radiate out to neighboring buildings. The two remaining sacbes were found in the northwestern periphery of the site. Now frankly these two “peripheral” sacbes have always been a problem. One ends somewhere near a relatively large architectural complex, but the three remaining sacbe ends were more or less floating in null space.

I have been greatly looking forward to reaching these sacbes in the mapping process, because neither has been properly cleared and mapped. Previously they have only been glimpsed through the excessive foliage, while I have tried to follow their course with no small amount of difficulty. Well this week I finally got to see the first of these sacbes begin to emerge from the forest. Things were going swimmingly until some more rubble was noted just past where the crew had identified the eastern end of the sacbe. At my urging the clearing continued, while I went back to mapping. Later in the day when I returned to check on the work I expected to find that the sacbe had petered on for another 10 to 15 meters and ended. I was disappointed. It would appear that the said rubble was actually the remains of yet another sacbe oriented to a different angle from its neighbor.

Now keep in mind we are still missing the typical large buildings or plazas for a sacbe to end at, now in addition we have a third sacbe that seems to go nowhere. Dan quickly christened this new sacbe as “Sacbe Mixtu’ux.” Now I’m sure all of my loyal readers will immediately assume that Dan chose that name in honor of this blog. After all he is an avid reader of it himself (despite being out at the site everyday), and let’s face it, he pretty well hangs on every word I say and never talks back or disagrees with me. However the name is a more than apt description of the sacbe in Maya and quickly won the approval of the boys from Ucu. Mixtu’ux is the word in Yucatec Maya for “nowhere.” Hence the sacbe has been christened “The Sacbe to Nowhere.”

Granted we haven’t finished the mapping, and perhaps we will still come across something that allows us to make some kind of sense out of these sacbes. Right now though, they are so very interesting to me, and at the same time so damned unfathomable that the arguments as to their nature have become an unending Mobius strip in my brain. Here’s hoping I can turn them off long enough to get some sleep this weekend!


Blogger Cloro said...

Dave - this would probably be a great place to put an excavation, if for no other reason than to find out primacy. Tzeme' had a sacbe with a plaza group sitting on top of it. If/when you find the origin/ destination of the sacbeo'ob, excavations at the crossroads (great blues tune working its way through there) would tell you pretty clearly what was original. It could also point to some serious stone robbing, if little of the original structure remains....

5:02 PM  

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