Structure 6F-3 is a 16.5 m high truncated primary pyramidal substructure with a large secondary substructure on the summit. It is located at the northern apex of the triadically arranged core of pyramids in the North Acropolis (Fig. 2.1). Project surveyors contour-mapped this structure in 1986, recording the primary substructure as a multi-terraced mound with a central stair case on the south side ascending 11 m to a roughly 300 sq m raised plaza area. The 5 m high secondary substructure is, in turn, located on the northern side of the summit plaza facing south. At the southern edge of the summit plaza, on the north - south centerline, Freidel noted a 6 meter long and 1.0 - 1.5 m deep depression and hypothesized that it represented either the scar of a looter's trench or a collapsed room in a structure or subsurface chambera tomb.
During the 1989 field season, Traci Ardren excavated a a 2 x 2 meter test pit on the top of the summit secondary substructure to provide preliminary chronological and architectural data (Freidel, Suhler, and Krochock 1990). The stratigraphy of this test pit was complicated (Fig. 2.2). Ardren discerned potentially two overlapping depositional events in the profiles. The first appeared to represent an Early Classic construction phase. The second event appeared to have been a large Terminal Classic pit penetrating this Early Classic summit substructure. Preliminary evaluation of the ceramics also seems to support this scenario. We did not investigate this portion of the building in 1993 and therefore we are unable to elaborate further on this possibility. Our long-term plans for Structure 6F-3 do, however, include further investigation of the summit substructure
Our initial goals for the 1993 excavations on Structure 6F-3 were to investigate the depression located at the southern edge of the summit plaza (Fig. 2.3). As outlined in our proposal, submitted to the Archaeology Council before the start of the 1993 field season, we proposed that this depression could represent an architectural design similar to that of Structure B-4 at Altun Ha (Pendergast 1982, 1969). We hypothesized that, if this was the case, then this depression should mark the collapsed roof of an Early Classic tomb placed in a massive masonry pier located at the top of the Structure 6F-3 main staircase.
Our investigations first began to define the surface depression. However, we expanded the scope of the exposure as we sought documentation for the increasingly complicated architectural design we were encountering. The exposure raised important architectural, stratigraphic, and chronological questions that could only be addressed through a more extensive horizontal excavation. As a result of the 1993 field season's investigations at Structure 6F-3, we now have some documentation for the final three architectural phases of the centerline on the primary sub-structure (Figs. 2.4-2.8).
One of the first things we noticed during initial clearing in the central area of the depression, prior to beginning actual excavations, was a series of wall lines which seemed to form a north-south entrance leading into the area of the depression. We followed these wall lines south where they cornered and became the northern interior wall of another room. At this point in time we realized we were dealing with two features; a northern corridor- ridor in the area of the depression and a southern, outer, chamber located at the south end of a connecting north-south entrance.
In an effort to document the plan of this architecture, we decided to first clear horizontally along the mound surface, defining the interior walls of the southern chamber. This effort revealed a 2.04 m north - south by 4.16 m east - west masonry room with entrances in the north and south walls (Fig.s 2.9, 2.10). Each entrance was placed on the approximate north - south centerline of Structure 6F-3. Further work showed that the chamber had originally carried a masonry vaulted roof, now collapsed.
As we reached the end of this initial clearing in the southern chamber and northern corridor, it became obvious that the floors of the two features were at very different elevations. Based on an initial measurement of preserved vault springs, we could observe that vault spring of the northern corridor was at least 1.2 m higher than that of the chamber into which it gave access to the south.
Once the preliminary architectural clearing was completed, we needed to establish the relationship between the exposed architecture and main staircase discernable from the surface con formation. We began by clearing westward over the top of the western interior wall of the chamber in order to determine if the chamber was built down into the body of the substructure or was a free-standing superstructure. We quickly found the western exterior wall of the chamber. At its northern edge it cornered to the west and became what we presume to have been a terrace face of the substructure. This terrace face is 1.8 m south of the northern interior wall of the chamber. The excavators then contacted the exterior southwest corner of the chamber 1.56 m south of the intersection between the northern terrace wall and the western exterior wall of the outer chamber. The western exterior wall rested on a compact, marl surface, probably the remains of an eroded floor, which was present in all areas investigated at this level.
We then began to clear eastward along the southern exterior wall of the chamber. The first detail we noticed was that the outer room was footed on a two course .36 m high terrace with a 20 cm plinth projecting from the southern exterior of the chamber. This plinth is not present on the western exterior of the outer room (Fig. 2.11).
Our search for stair steps in the area to the south and west of the chamber led instead to the discovery of the northwest corner and northern face of a masonry wall 1.5 m south of the face of the chamber plinth. At this point, we were clearly dealing with some kind of solid pier straddling the centerline of the stairway. We followed the northwest corner of this pier to the south in an attempt to define the western wall of this feature. This work yielded very little beyond a possible basal course. This remnant of a western wall ran 1.9 m south where it then did open onto stair steps. Although accessible here because of slope erosion, this staircase (Stair B) was elsewhere overlain stratigraphically by a later staircase (Stair A) which we had yet to place in the overall sequence at the summit, having only observed it on the surface at the base of Structure 6F-3.
As we continued clearing eastward from the southwest exterior corner of the chamber, we found we were dealing with a vaulted corridor which ran east-west from the southwest corner to the southern doorway of the chamber and onwards presumably to the southeast corner of the chamber. Excavating around the south side of the masonry pier from which the corridor vault was sprung revealed evidence of a steep stairway facade, detailed below. The architectural stratigraphy to the north of this vaulted corridor suggested that the summit plaza extended as a platform out over this southern, east-west trending corridor. The chamber directly north was intentionally designed as a subsurface feature, also covered by this platform extension. Likewise, the interior north- south oriented corridor accessed by the raised doorway in the chamber and the as-of-then unexcavated zones of the summit plaza depression were also evidently covered by summit plaza. In brief, the features we were excavating were all designed to be under the surface of the raised summit plaza and the centerline stairway. They were intentionally subterranean, much like the corridors and sanctums in the Late Preclassic dance platforms next to the Eastern Acropolis which we reported in 1992.
At this point, we decided to concentrate the rest of our investigations on Structure 6F-3 in these three areas: 1) the western side of the staircase (from the western terrace to the base of the building); 2) the southern vaulted corridor and the subsurface chamber; and 3) the interior northern corridor and whatever was behind it to the north in the area of the depression.
We had yet to encounter a floor in either the chamber or the northern corridor, so excavation to floor level in these areas was our first order of business. When we found it, the floor of the chamber was located 1.81 m below the level of the room's vault spring. The floor of the northern corridor was at 97 cm above the floor of the chamber. The most obvious anomaly in this architectural design is the lack of masonry stairs allowing ascent up this 97 cm from the chamber into the northern corridor. We believe this design establishes the northern corridor area as very restricted and privileged space, accessible (with any dignity) only by a temporary and perishable ladder. There are examples of such ladders gaining access to niche-like throne chambers on Classic Maya stelae from Piedras Negras.
We halted our clearing of the southern corridor just to the east of the southern entrance to the outer room. Continued work in this corridor showed a substantial difference in the elevation of the springs on its northern and southern sides. The northern spring, built into the exterior southern wall of the chamber, was sprung at 1.98 m above the packed marl floor surface. The southern vault spring of the corridor was located at 1.50 m above this same surface. As mentioned above, we believe the packed marl surface is all that remains of the floor of the corridor and the adjacent western terrace level.
Cleaning of this packed marl surface revealed an oval penetration located directly south, in front, of the southern doorway of the chamber. The fill in this penetration consisted of large vault stones and marl, the same debris from a collapsed vaulted roof as found throughout our clearing of the southern corridor. Further excavation into this penetration showed it to contain a human internment; designated Burial 19 (Fig. 2.12).
Stratigraphically, Burial 19 is the latest intentional activity discovered in our excavations on Structure 6F-3 and perhaps one of the last rituals carried out by Precolumbian Maya on this part of the building complex. In keeping with a termination mode, four items of note distinguish this internment from almost all of the other Terminal Classic burials that we have excavated at Yaxuna. Firstly, burial 19 lacks a defined crypt. Every other confirmed Terminal Classic burial Sharon Bennett and her workmen have excavated at Yaxuna has been found within the confines of a subfloor crypt composed of slab walls and capstones. In Burial 19, the ritualists merely placed the body into a 60 cm deep hole dug into the packed marl surface of the southern corridor. Once they had placed the body into the hole, they made no further effort to cover it over. Except for a few stones that they may or
may not have deliberately thrown into the hole, the fill of the pit is composed of loose, unconsolidated rubble, soil, and jumbled vault stones.
Secondly the position of the body was unusual. Normally, Terminal Classic mourners placed their dead in an extended position. Sharon Bennett found the body in Burial 19 in a flexed position. The ritualists oriented the head to the north. Thirdly, the deceased lacked the normal range of grave goods usually found associated with Terminal Classic internments at Yaxuna. The typical Terminal Classic mortuary assemblage at Yaxuna consists of ceramic vessels and shell artifacts. Mourners usually placed one ceramic vessel to cover the face and others, depending on the status of the individual, either near the waist, the feet or in both places. The type and elaboration of the mortuary vessels also varied based on the status of the interred individual. Shell artifacts occur as either pierced whole shells or as simple pendants cut from whole shells and pierced for suspension. Sharon Bennett found no shell artifacts with Burial 19. Furthermore, the only ceramic vessel associated with this body was a large and incomplete portion of a censer in the southwest corner of the hole. Based on a field analysis and comparison with other ceramic types, David Johnstone believes this vessel represents a censer of the type Sisal Burdo. Fernando Robles defined this type at Coba, and he dates it there to the Terminal Classic (Robles 1990).
Fourthly, Sharon Bennett found an unusually large number of animal bones with the body. The ritualists laid around it two deer skulls with horns, a bird skeleton, a small rodent skeleton, and portions of a snake. Such a mortuary menagerie is unique for Terminal Classic Yaxuna, or any other period of Yaxuna for that matter. It further indicates the difference between this internment and the other Terminal Classic burials we have excavated.
We believe these distinctive patterns are consistent with the hypothesis posed by Sharon Bennett that Burial 19 represents a human sacrifice of its occupant. This person was sacrificed in conjunction with a Terminal Classic ritual termination of the centerline features we have discovered on Structure 6F-3. Immediately after the deposit of the human and the animal parts in the hole, the ritualists pulled down the vaulted roof of the southern corridor on top of it. The evidence pointing to this rather tight sequence of events is derived primarily from the undisturbed contents of the sacrificial pit. An uncovered pit containing a dead human and the remains of several animals left exposed in an intact vaulted passage for any length of time would have quickly become the focus of any number of scavenging animals. The taphonomic results of such scavenging would have destroyed the context of the internment and surely left it in a very different state than the tightly articulated, coherent, and well preserved deposit Sharon Bennett encountered and excavated.
We think further evidence of such a deliberate collapsing of vaults can be found in a consideration of the centerline architecture itself. The chamber and the southern vaulted corridor- ridor are very robust constructions. The walls of the chamber, where we have thoroughly documented them on the western and southern sides, are 1.4 m thick, well built and coursed, grouted and chinked masonry features. Masons built the vaults of stepped courses of rectangularly shaped slab vault stones set long axis perpendicular to the long axis of the vault. They sprung the vaults on slabs securely built into the plaster and gravel cement hearting of the walls. The design placing the long axis of the vault and spring stones into the surrounding ballast insured a tenoned effect, further reinforcing the vault. In our opinion, if all the esn place by the Maya, the vaults of such sturdy architecture should have been found at least partially, if not completely, intact.
However, we found the vaults of the chamber and the corridors neither totally nor partially intact, but completely collapsed. We propose that part of the reason for this uniform state of collapse is documented in the southern doorway of the chamber, which showed evidence of deliberate destruction. In principle, lintels over doorways are among the most stable features of a masonry- roofed building. Unlike vault slabs, lintel stones are anchored into walls at both ends and these features often survive the col lapse of a vaulted roof. On the other hand, lintel stones are sometimes deliberately removed in the context of ritual termination of Maya buildings. For example, David Freidel observed that the lintel stones had been removed in the doorways of the remarkably well preserved and deliberately buried Early Classic palace at Bahlum Kuh in Campeche. In that case, the vaults have remained stable. Augustin Pena pointed out to David Freidel that lintel stones had been deliberately removed from vaulted features at Chichén Itza in the context of the court of a thousand columns, a building evincing evidence of deliberate destruction and termination in the form of collapsed sections of the collonade.
In the case of Structure 6F-3, originally the top of this 88 cm wide doorway was spanned by either three or four stone lintel slabs. At the time of our excavations, only one lintel slab was left in place. This slab was lenticular in cross section, 40 cm wide by 18 cm thick and over a meter in length. We suggest that ritualist pulled the three missing lintel stones out at the time of the termination of the chamber and corridor. We suggest that the collapse of the vaults in both the southern corridor and the subsurface chamber were likewise deliberate and carried out at the same time. As discussed above, these vaults were collapsed right after the placement of the sacrificial victim in Burial 19.
This termination ritual event is part of a larger pattern of such events on buildings at Yaxuna, examples from our research span the Late Preclassic through the Terminal Classic periods. As mentioned in the beginning of this section, evidence of other Terminal Classic activity at Structure 6F-3 was recovered from atop a summit superstructure excavation during the 1989 field season. Further work may reveal that the sacrifice of a person and the collapse of the chamber and corridor vaults on the centerline were aspects of a larger termination of Structure 6F-3 as a ceremonial locus in the Terminal Classic period.
The southern wall of the chamber is also the northern wall of the southern corridor. As such, this medial wall supported not one, but two, vaulted spaces. The centrally located doorway through this medial wall is the weakest spot along it, and therefore the weakest spot for both the chamber and the southern corridor- ridor. Our evidence suggests that the chamber vault was sprung from all four walls. Within the doorway the lintels helped support the vault springs of both the chamber and the corridor. If removed the absence of the lintels' support would immediately destabilize vaults in the two areas. We surmise that the shock of such a rapid destabilization would bring about almost total collapse of the vaults over the chamber and the southern corridor. We further propose this is exactly what the Maya did in order to terminate the building. They hoped that the removal of these lintels would provide a mortal blow to the integrity of the vaults. Whatever other means they may have employed left no record in the deposit, but the aggregate effect was as they intended: to collapse the chamber and its access from the south. In the course of this effort, they pulled two lintel stones from the corridor side and only one from the chamber side. On the corridor- ridor side, it appears that they pried out stones from the western jamb in order to facilitate removal of the lintels. This is a practice we have seen used by the Maya to terminate other vaulted buildings during the Terminal Classic at Yaxuna-- specifically, in the doorways of Structure 6F 68.
In addition to shutting down the interior spaces covered by the vaults, a termination centered on the lintels of the southern entrance to the chamber would have destroyed what was certainly a focal place on Structure 6F-3, second only to the visually accessible summit of the secondary substructure. The roof over the chamber and corridor was likely flat, in light of the limited amount of debris above the roof collapse in the interior spaces. The overall architectural design of this centerline axis, viewed from the exterior, is not all that different from other Classic period examples, such as Structure B-4 at Altun Ha in Belize or Structure N9-59 at Lamanai: a massive pier straddling the stairway at its juncture with the summit platform. The difference here is that the Structure 6F-3 pier houses a chamber rather than a tomb. In light of such considerations, we propose that the pier formed a platform surface which projected southward from the summit plaza of the primary substructure and which linked up with the southern face of the pier. This southern face carried a masonry facade of steep steps continuing to the platform surface. We believe the stratigraphy shows this pier was built on top of a summit terrace originally associated with Stair B.
Stair B is the earliest staircase we have found at Structure 6F-3. However, we are almost certain there will be earlier stairways on the centerline as we expand excavation at this locality in future seasons. The top preserved tread of Stair B is at the same level as the packed marl layer which forms the remains of the surface of the outer vaulted passage and the western terrace. While we did not clear the eastern side of the main staircase, we are currently assuming it to have been roughly symmetrical with the western side. As mentioned above, we do not think that the
southern face of the outer vaulted passage pier was meant to have been ascended by either Stair B or its replacement, Stair A. While this area does have what appear to be steps ascending its face, these steps are almost impossibly steep and narrow, even by Maya standards. In our opinion, they were never meant to be functional. Access to the summit plaza evidently was restricted to a route which either required passing through the southern corridor- ridor, into the chamber, up into the northern corridor, and then up stairs exiting by trap doors located in unexcavated continuations of the interior east-west extension of the northern corridor- ridor.
This is certainly an unusual way to design access to the summit of a major Maya pyramid, but the design has precedent at Yaxuna. The Maya used stairs from subsurface corridors to exit onto the summits of the Late Preclassic period dance platforms, Structures 6E-53 and 6E-120 (Suhler and Freidel 1993, sections 2 and 3). Indeed, the chamber, corridors, and exterior platform design of the Structure 6F-3 centerline closely replicates the main features of these dance platforms. Only further research on Structure 6F-3 can evaluate the alternative design, which would have ascending exterior stairs located at the level of the western terrace and flanking either side of the massive pier housing the chamber. These modes of access to the summit plaza are currently suppositions, further excavations will be required to establish the veracity of either of these possibilities.
From the southern edge of the western terrace/floor Stair B descended uninterrupted for nineteen 25 cm wide by 22 cm high steps. Each tread was formed by a row of roughly shaped blocks with each lower step supporting a portion of the preceding step. Presumably these steps would have been heavily plastered when in use. The western limit of Stair B showed no evidence of a balustrade. The edge of each step was also the top of the western retaining wall of the staircase. At the base of the 19th step down from the top there are two roughly 50 cm wide by 50 cm high steps. These two massive steps were built from two courses of the stones used to form the regular steps. Below these larger steps we found one more regular steps which descend to a packed marl horizontal surface. We followed this packed marl surface south for 2.70 m, where it disappeared into the unexcavated fill of the lower courses of Stair A. This packed marl surface evidently registered a broad pause or stage in Stair B. As we did not remove any of the preserved Stair A overlying it to the south, we could not follow this surface to see if it began descending again in more steps of Stair B or whether it might have been truncated by the construction of Stair A. Given the elevation of the stage on Stair B above the plaza below, it is highly likely that regular steps continued to the plaza.
Stair A was laid immediately on top of Stair B. The steps of this staircase were set into a 1.5 - 2.0 m thick layer of construction ballast composed of unconsolidated rubble in a heavy dirt matrix which covered Stair B. The ceramics from the Stair A fill were mainly Terminal Classic types, provisionally assigning construction of Stair A to this period. This construction fill was held in place on the west side of Stair A by a retaining wall built on top of the edges of Stair B and the lower terrace. Originally we viewed this retaining wall, preserved only at the base of Stair B, as a collapsed balustrade for Stair B. We discarded this idea after we controlled the stratigraphy of this area more completely. There was a clear disjunction between the architecture of the western retaining wall of Stair B and that of the retaining wall of Stair A. The fact that the retaining wall of Stair B had not collapsed made these differences even more apparent. The retaining wall of Stair B was better built than that of Stair A. The masons used better shaped blocks, more even coursing, and thicker grout.
As observed during excavation, the collapse at the base of the western edge of Stair A rested on the soft, uneven packed marl surface of the stage in Stair B. Because the surface lacked a finished plaster layer, it remains problematic. Nevertheless, the most parsimonious interpretation is that it functioned as a deliberate pause in Stair B. Because the Stair B retaining wall had not collapsed, all the material found on top of the marl surface dated to the decay of Stair A. In addition to Terminal Classic ceramics, this fall contained a substantial amount of well shaped, Puuc-style veneer stones. These stones fell from the face of the western retaining wall of Stair A and served to further tie this construction in with other Terminal Classic building activity in the North Acropolis. At the basal end of the western retaining wall of Stair A we cleared and exposed a small, carved stone figure (Fig. 2.13).
The masons raised Stair A using poor construction techniques (outer retaining walls with no interior support from construction walls) and the western retainer of Stair A had sloughed off from the edge for at least 1.5 - 2.0 m inward down the greater portion of the feature. In our excavations we removed no in situ stair stone of Stair A when clearing to Stair B. Figure 2.7 shows the extent of Stair A collapse on the western side of the stairs. In contrast, the edge of Stair B was intact.
We followed the fill of Stair A from the base of the excavation, located 1.70 m above the plaza floor, upwards to a point even with the level of the packed marl surface on the western terrace which leads to the southern corridor and the entrance to the subsurface chamber. We observed no evidence of Stair A construction fill on the western terrace. This is commensurate with our view that the terrace was clear and the corridor and chamber were still vaulted and open during the Terminal Classic use and construction of Stair A. Stratigraphically, Stair A construction fill overlies Stair B entirely at the juncture of the Stair with the primary substructure of 6F-3. However, the surface of this upper zone on Stair A was badly eroded and we could not determine with certainty that steps continued to the raised plaza of the substructure. The mode of primary access to the raised plaza, however, seems highly likely in the Terminal Classic period. We anticipate that continued excavation in the inner corridor- ridors behind the subsurface chamber will reveal that the stairs ascending from them to the raised plaza were already blocked by the time of the Terminal Classic reuse of the building. Certainly the eastern arm of the inner corridor, as described below, had been deliberately blocked at some point in time.
As stated before, our excavations at Structure 6F-3 this season did not furnish the information which would have allowed us to completely define the southern face of the pier of on Stair B and the upper terminus of Stair A. In order to thoroughly investigate this area we would have had to remove a substantial quantity of Stair A overburden and collapse from Stair B. Such a task was not feasible because the same overburden and collapse which was masking the architecture on the southern face of the pier was at the same time the bulk of the material supporting the remains of the southern vault of the southern corridor. We plan to stabilize this area in 1994. Hopefully, we will be able to gather more information on the design of the stairways while the architecture is being consolidated.
Returning to the interior of the building, the north wall of the chamber was pierced in its approximate center by a small entrance from the northern corridors, which we postulate may have been key-hole shaped. As mentioned previously, the sill of this entrance stood 97 cm above the floor of the chamber with no permanent means of ascent. In the absence of masonry steps this doorway may have been entered by use of a perishable ladder, scaffold, or platform. This elevated doorway led to a 2.46 m long north - south corridor. The vault for this corridor was sprung at 1.45 m above the floor. The vault itself was short, no more than four corbelled courses, not including the capstones, for a vault height of 60 cm and a total corridor height of ca 2.0 m. The postulated key-hole shape of the entrance into the chamber was, in principle, achieved by outsetting the jambs on either side of the entrance while leaving the area above the vault spring open at the original width of the corridor. The resulting constricted doorway was only 56 cm wide for a distance of 98 cm on the east side of the corridor and 84 cm on the western side.
There is no preserved vaulting along this restricted portion of the northern connecting corridor, so our reconstruction is hypothetical. The vault in this area could have been completely destroyed, or that section of the northern connecting corridor could have been roofed only by lintel slabs and a continuation of the vertical interior northern wall of the chamber. In light of the collapsed condition of the roofing over this entire complicated feature, we must consider this possibility that the northern entrance into the chamber may not have been keyhole shaped at all. In this alternative design, the ecated at about the preserved elevation of the constricted jambs. In this case the entrance would have been a niche no more than 56 cm wide, by 80 cm high, by less than a meter long, which then led to the vaulted section of the interior connecting passage.
Whatever its final entrance design may have been, we have strong evidence of a disjunction in the wall of the northern connecting corridor (Fig. 2.8). The southern part of that corridor- ridor was evidently built out about 1.24 m as an extension from an existing northern part. There is a seam, a visible break where two walls meet. We surmise that this break actually marks the beginning of the northern wall of the subsurface chamber, and that hence this chamber and its associated corridor were added on to an existing vertical terrace wall of the primary substructure. If we are correct, then the construction south of this seam relates to a major construction phase, Structure 6F-3/2nd (Figs. 2.4, 2.5). Structure 6F-3/2nd modified the existing centerline design by the addition of the pier at the top of Stair B containing the subsurface chamber and the southern corridor. If we are right, for all intents and purposes the Maya placed a dance platform, very much like Structures 6E-53 and 6E
120, the pla forms we discovered near the eastern acropolis in 1991 and 1992 (Suhler and Freidel 1993: sections 2 and 3), on top of this pyramid. The significant design difference between those Late Preclassic features and this pier is that the dance platforms had trap-doors opening onto their summits, while the chamber in this pier opened into an existing subsurface corridor within the pyramid. The prior design of the building, Structure 6F-3/3rd, included Stair B, the stage on the lower part of that stairway, and a two-course, 37 cm high, 7.2 m wide (or wider), by 4.6 m long, platform on the centerline to the north of the top riser of Stair B and to the south of the northern corridor. This platform is now visible only as the plinth at the base of the south wall of the subsurface chamber. The northern end of this platform was built against the face of a vertical terrace on the pyramid, now seen as the seam which is visible in the profile of the northern corridor. Because the subsurface chamber almost exactly overs the low platform, we suspect that their functions were related and that the former is an elaboration of the latter.
In its latest configuration (6F-3/2nd, 6F-3/1st) the interior connecting corridor widened out to 1.08 m after the restricted section and continued at this width until it intersected with an east-west running corridor at its northern end. Prior to the Structure 6F-3/2nd modifications, we believe the Structure 6F- 3/3rd terrace face and the interior corridors represented a earlier expression of the same principle of restricted interior ritual space. This Early Classic labyrinth in Structure 6F-3/3rd is also analogous to the Late Preclassic platforms mentioned above. The labyrinth t shaped corridor continued to function during the 6F-3/2nd and 6F-3/1st phases. In our current architectural phase reconstruction, Stair B also continued to be used with Structure 6F-3/2nd after construction of the pier. Stair A, built during the Terminal Classic (6F-3/1st), may well have provided direct access to the raised plaza above after the interior accessway through the subsurface corridors had been closed by collapse or intentional sealing.
Clearly the ritual space of the low platform on the centerline terrace of Structure 6F-3/3rd was visually accessible and public in contrast to the subsurface chamber which replaced it. The meter-high accessway from this platform into the doorway of the labyrinth to the north might have been consequently more imperishable. In this context, perhaps a small masonry staircase could have risen from the platform to the doorway. Such a stairway might have been removed in the course of attaching the pier and its chamber. However, possible remnants of these steps may be preserved below the floor level of the chamber. We intend to test below this floor level.
In the east-west section of the northern corridor, we did not find any part of the walls preserved above the spring level, and we only found the spring stones in a few scattered locations. Therefore we have no way of knowing for certain whether this area was covered by a corbelled vault or by large capstones laid on top of a spring level. The fill cleared from the northern corridor was not very helpful deciding this issue. Most the worked stone removed from the collapse in the east-west sector could have functioned as either capstones or corbel vault stones.
We investigated the western side of this east-west corridor section for approximately 2.72 meters beyond its intersection with the northwest corner of the north-south section. We recorded spring stones in a couple of places. They sprang at ca 1.90 m above the corridor floor. At this point in time circumstances dictated that we halt investigations in the western side in order to concentrate our summit investigations in the eastern portion of the corridor.
At approximately 1.8 m east of the northeast corner of the connecting passage, the east-west sector of the northern corridor ended in a masonry blocking wall (Fig. 2.14). This wall was composed of well shaped masonry blocks laid in and covered over in places by a coarse sascab grout. This top of this blocking wall was 1.62 m above the floor of the corridor. The floor of the northern corridor was covered by a 25 cm thick white sascab layer. This white sascab layer was also laid against the face of the blocking wall. We think that this sascab layer registers a ritual of termination or abandonment of the corridor some unknown time after the construction of the blocking wall. The laying of a white marl layer is an act linked in many cases with the termination of Maya structures. Hopefully, analysis of ceramics found in this deposit will help us to further refine the timing of this event.
The stones used in the construction of the blocking wall had been removed from the exterior of either another part of Structure 6F-3/2nd or of some other decorated structure. Several of the stones were covered in thick, hard, well polished, and red- painted stucco. The plastered surfaces of these stones in the blocking wall were jumbled. Some were upside down while others were reversed or on end. Clearly all had been removed from another wall. Directly south of the northwest corner of the blocking wall, we found a polished piece of white wall plaster still adhering to a section of the northern face of the corridor. This wall piece rolled down and became the floor of the corridor, indicating that at one time the entire corridor was covered in a very fine, polished white plaster.
At the base of the blocking wall, excavators found two well- shaped blocks set into a sascab grout. They also discovered a tightly clustered group of artifacts on top of the lower of these two blocks, within the sascab layer. These artifacts consisted of one half of an unmodified marine shell, a small chunk of greenstone which has been sawn or polished on one end, the proximal end of a small fine chert or chalcedony blade, and two spondylous shell beads--both drilled to be hung transversely (Fig. 2.15). Given the lack of suspension holes in the marine shell and the close association between the artifacts we believe they represent an offering nested in the marine shell and laid on the lower stone. In this context, the two stones functioned as an altar placed in front of the blocking wall.
We decided there was no compelling reason to remove the blocking wall, so we went over it and began excavation behind it with the purpose of finding whatever the blocking wall had sealed in. Our initial continuation was in a 2 m long east - west area with the northern and southern boundaries marked by the width of the east-west sector of the northern corridor, approximately 1 m. Dry core fill and soil composed the upper 80 cm of this area. Below this stratum, we began to encounter a very pure and homogenous white sascab layer packed around rocks. This sascab layer was laid directly against the back of the single stone thick blocking wall. The back of the blocking wall was unfinished and very rough, obviously it was never meant to be seen.
We quickly found the southern wall of the corridor behind and eastward of the blocking wall. It continued unbroken from the western side of the blocking wall. The northern wall of the corridor- ridor, however, was another story. Approximately 2 m below the sascab deposit behind and 1.62 m below, the blocking wall we found a polished floor of the corridor. The southern wall was set into this floor, but we still had no evidence of the northern wall. Instead, the northern face of the unit was an unconsolidated wall of very white, wet laid sascab.
After we had cleaned off this floor and taken measurements on both sides of the blocking wall we determined the floor behind the blocking wall was the same floor in the unblocked portion of the corridor. After further cleaning we finally found the basal footer for the northern wall of the corridor behind the blocking wall. The Maya had removed the northern wall of the corridor behind the blocking wall to the level of the basal course and then placed the wet-laid sascab deposit where it had once been. They demolished the northern wall for the length of our exposure in 1993. We will pursue this feature in 1994.
We then penetrated a section of the corridor floor behind the blocking wall and found it to lay on a normal floor construction sequence: a ballast layer of chich and sascab set on top of progressively larger dry core fill. This situation quickly led us to believe that whatever lay behind the blocking wall also lay to the north, where a section of the north wall of the east-west interior corridor had been removed.
At this point we decided to, in essence, follow what we perceived to represent the path the Maya were taking towards whatever feature they put into the corridor area before building the blocking wall. That is, we continued to the north of the destroyed northern corridor wall. We moved to the northern edge of the first exposure behind the blocking wall and marked off an additional 3 x 3 m area. Upon beginning excavation in this area we immediately found ourselves in large boulder and cobble dry core fill of the primary substructure. A 30 cm humus layer covered the dry core fill. As some marl and gravel was also mixed in with this material we inferred that this top 30 cm layer represented the eroded surface of the summit plaza.
In the southern portion of the unit the wet-laid rubble and sascab layer showed up 1 m below a layer of rubble and brown dirt that extended to the surface. The top of the sascab and rock layer continued northward for 1.2 m measured from the edge of the corridor. A this point the white marl and rock layer took a 80 cm vertical drop. The bottom of this drop was a packed gray marl surface which extended 1.10 m further to the north. The dry rubble fill overlying the gray marl surface had a very high content of dark, loose soil.
The northern edge of the gray sascab surface was also the top of a 2 m high masonry wall. Eventually we determined that this masonry wall continued around to form the southern, western, and northern walls of a U-shaped enclosure. The face of the western segment of this enclosure was roughly on line with the back of the blocking wall in the northern corridor. The enclosure was 3.7 m long measured along the north wall (3.5 m long measured along the south wall). At the eastern end, the enclosure walls cornered both to the north and to the south (Fig. 2.16). This point the feature opens into an unknown extension. One possibility is that this extension opens into a continuation of the northern corridor- ridor. If the Late Preclassic dance platforms are a guide, then the northern corridor may have formed a roughly rectangular pattern below the upper plaza surface of Structure 6F-3. The enclosure under discussion could have opened into an eastern section of this rectangle of corridors.
To reiterate, these walls formed a 2.24 m north-south by ca 3.60 m east-west U shaped enclosure, open at the eastern end. In the method and technique of their construction the feature was unusual in several respects. Firstly, each of the walls was topped off at a different level. The differences in height between the three walls varied from 2 m to 2.6 m. The walls the selves were completely dry-laid. Finally the walls formed a single, continuous surface with curves rather than sharp corners from the southeast corner of the southern wall all the way around to the northeast corner of the northern wall. Rather than interlocking the walls together at right angles or building one set of walls within another, again at right angles (in the same fashion as the blocking wall or the walls of the outer room), the two corners of the u-shaped enclosure were formed by merely rotating stones in a less than 90 degree orientation and in a very haphazard manner of coursing.
Based on these factors, we infer that these walls were intended to form a facility to be used temporarily and witnessed by only a few special people. The walls were raised like masons' walls. Masons' walls are a common technique used by the Maya to create a lattice of internal pens in large buildings. These pens inhibit the lateral slump of dry rubble in construction fill. In this case, however, the walls were raised not to pen loose rubble within, but rather to hold back dry core fill of Structure 6F- 3/3rd from an open space on the raised plaza surface of Structure 6F-3/4th. The intentions of the builders in this space will become apparent shortly.
So the walls of the U-shaped enclosure were footed on the polished plaster floor of Structure 6F-3/4th which was found 48 cm below the surface of the 6F-3/3rd northern corridor floor. Originally the 6F-3/4th floor covered the entire area encompassed by the u-shaped enclosure. However, when exposed by excavation, the central portion of the floor within the enclosure had been cut away. This floor was preserved only on the extreme western and eastern sides of the exposed area (Fig. 2.17). On the western edge of the enclosure the polished surface was preserved only as a small strip, never wider than 50 cm and, in the center, 15 cm wide. The sub floor ballast was preserved out to about 7 cm from the western wall throughout the rest of this section.
On the eastern side, the corresponding sub-floor ballast and polished floor surface were observable from between 1.9 and 2.4 m east of the western face of the enclosure. By 2.8 m east of the western wall of the enclosure, the surface was polished over its entire exposed area. We followed this surface eastward for another 60 cm before stopping excavations to the east. We could observe in the eastern edge profile at this juncture what may have been a portion of Structure 6F-3/5th under the 65 cm layer representing Structure 6F-3/4th. Further west, this stratigraphy was erased by the penetration of the 6F-3/4th floor and the subsequent refilling of the area with large boulder and cobbles. We also recovered during this cleaning back of the profile a large shell. This deposit was found 70 cm below the level of the polished floor surface and below an area sealed by the polished floor. Because of this stratigraphic context, we surmise that this deposit represents a dedication offering placed below the floor in conjunction with the construction of the Structure 6F 3/4th floor.
Only the smallest edges of the Structure 6F-3/4th floor were visible at the base of the northern and southern walls of the enclosure. In profile, however, this floor was visible and underlain on both sides by between 50 cm and 60 cm of sub-floor ballast and cobble-sized dry core fill. Below the Structure 6F- 3/4th floor on the northern and southern sides, and also at the base of the sub-floor ballast on the western side of the u-shaped enclosure, and some 34 cm below the 6F-3/4th floor, we discovered the top courses of three more masonry walls.
As was the case with the u-shaped enclosure walls, these three walls again were on the north, west, and south sides of the pit. The face of the lower western wall was 80 cm eastward of the face of the western wall of the u-shaped enclosure. This lower wall ran roughly parallel to the upper western wall. It began 55 cm north of the upper southern u-shaped enclosure wall and continued north for 1.30 m where it ended 56 cm south of the face of the northern wall of the u-shaped enclosure. The lower northern wall extended 1.75 m east of the face of the lower western wall, angling to the northeast. At its eastern end the lower northern wall almost ran under the upper northern wall of the u-shaped enclosure. The lower southern wall paralleled the orientation of its northern counterpart. The eastern end of this lower wall was, however, only 1.15 m east of the face of the lower western wall.
At about 30 cm below the tops of the northern and southern lower masonry walls, the gray-brown soil mixed in with the dry core fill changed to a white, powdery sascab. The large rocks and cobbles in this level also took on this pure white color. Another 50 cm below this white sascab, in the extreme northeast corner of the area encompassed by the three lower walls, we found a carved and polished greenstone pendant. Based on its iconography we identify this pendant (Fig. 2.18) as a Jester God or sak-hunal, a semantic determinative for the status of ahaw, lord, in glyphic Mayan. Maya kings shared the ahaw title with high elite in the Late Classic period, but in the Early Classic period the Jester God diadem was strongly associated with members of royal families. Even in the Late Classic period, grasping the Jester God or sak-hunal was the primary statement of accession to rule by kings. Examples of these insignia were present in Burial 24 (Structure 6F-4) and in Burial 23, described below. We propose that both of these interments contained the remains of Early
Classic kings. An even more complete set of sak-hunal diadem jewels was found in Cache 3 during excavations at the summit of Structure 6F-4 in 1992 (Suhler and Freidel 1993).
The presence of this royal jewel inside the lower walled area confirmed to us that we were very close to either a very large royal cache or a royal tomb. Shortly after the appearance of the sak-hunal we found the entrance to a vaulted tomb chamber. The entrance to what was then given the field number of Burial 23 was located in the western wall of the lower encasing walls (Fig. 2.18). The top of the entrance was also the eastern-most capstone of the vault and was located at 2.96 m below the top of this western wall.
The area inside the lower encasing walls seems to us to represent an antechamber. We never did find formal steps leading into the tomb chamber but we believe such steps could be further to the east and beyond the limits of our exposure. The antechamber itself could contain additional information relating to the existence of a formal entrance. Due to time constraints, we did not completely clear the antechamber to the level of a definite surface, this is a future research objective.
Often important Maya tombs are prepared by penetrating an earlier structure, building the chamber, and then covering the old building and the tomb with a new structure. In conjunction with our initial interpretation of the stratigraphy along our route of excavation, we originally thought that the Burial 23 tomb chamber was constructed during the Structure 6F-3/2nd modification phase. We soon discerned several lines of evidence which showed that this was not the case. The stratigraphy showed that the construction of the Burial 23 tomb chamber likely preceded the laying of the Structure 6F-3/4th polished plaster floor. This floor ran over the chamber as seen in the western profile of the u-shaped enclosure. Because the lintel of the tomb entrance was merely a continuation of the capstones of the chamber, they must have been put in place at the same time, and the floor of Structure 6F 3/4th must have covered both the capstones and the lintel. Whether or not this tomb chamber was hung onto a prior terrace wall of Structure 6F-3/5th has yet to be determined. The Structure 6F-3/4th floor continued in all cardinal directions out from the penetrated area above the antechamber. The floor ran north, west, and south under the bases of the u-shaped enclosure walls and to the east under the construction fill. In the absence of any evidence to the contrary, we postulate that the interior space of the Burial 23 tomb chamber, located to the west of the face of the western wall of the enclosure, lies underneath a sealed portion of the Structure 6F- 3/4th floor.
The masons built the northern and southern walls of the antechamber to the same height as the northern and southern walls of the tomb chamber proper. Only the eastern wall of the antechamber continued above the level of the capstones. As discussed above, the bottom course of this eastern wall was also the eastern-most capstone of the tomb chamber vault. The northern wall of the tomb chamber was offset about 20 cm from the northern face of the northern antechamber wall. The vault spring for the northern side of the tomb chamber rested on top of the 82 cm high ledge created by this offset. The masons evidently did not employ this spring strategy on the southern side of the chamber; there the vault spring appeared to have been built into the wall instead of being laid on a ledge built against an earlier wall. These design variations strengthen the probability that the Burial 23 tomb chamber was built against a pre-existing terrace, represented by the northern wall of the antechamber.
In our current interpretation, the northern wall of the tomb chamber was built onto an extant terrace wall and the southern wall of the tomb chamber was a fresh construction raised 1.30 m to the south. The Maya must have also built the western wall at this time because it too had to support the vault. Once they had raised these three walls, they sprung the vault and raised the corbelled roof on top of the ledge of the northern tomb wall and on the southern tomb wall. The western wall was stepped inwards and upwards in order to furnish a load bearing surface for the western end of the vault. The western-most capstone rested on top of the western wall.
It was not until after the builders capped the vault that they undertook construction of any kind at the eastern end of the tomb chamber. Below the level of the capstones, they left the eastern end of the tomb as an open space framed by the ends of the northern and southern tomb walls and the vault. We did find a small blocking wall, about 35 cm high--the same height as the stone used as a step at the entrance--and this may have been built before the internment of the Burial 23 king. However, such a feature was aesthetic or ceremonial in function, delimiting space rather than furnishing architectural support. In any case, the entrance to the tomb chamber lacked formal monolithic jambs or lintels. The laying of the eastern-most capstone represented the first formal construction on the eastern end of the tomb chamber. This capstone functioned as both the apex of the vault and the lintel for the entrance to the tomb. Above this capstone, the masons built the eastern antechamber wall. This wall held in the vault ballast needed to preserve the structural integrity of the roof. The fact this vault ballast had to be in place prior to the laying of the Structure 6F-3/4th floor is another reason we infer that the tomb was integral to the construction of Structure 6F-3/4th.
Once the masons had built the tomb chamber and the ritualists had placed the individual in Burial 23, they filled the antechamber to the level of the sub-floor ballast of the Structure 6F- 3/4th floor, completed that floor and sealed in the entire feature. Sometime later, when Structure 6F-3/4th was in the process of being covered and replaced by Structure 6F-3/3rd, laborers raised the u-shaped enclosure on top of the Structure 6F-3/4th floor directly above the antechamber. The enclosure surrounded the antechamber on three sides: north, west, and south. The eastern side of the enclosure, paralleling the eastern entrance to the sealed Burial 23 tomb chamber below the floor, they opened onto a wider area of undetermined dimensions. The purpose of this enclosure was to act as a cofferdam, to leave open and accessible the area above the Burial 23 tomb chamber entrance and antechamber while the construction of Structure 6F-3/3rd proceeded all around.
Presumably the builders left the eastern side of the enclosure open in order to allow access to this area. The tops of the enclosure retaining walls were higher than the floor of the northern corridor. The complete design of the subsurface corridor- ridors running underneath the summit plaza of Structure 6F-3/3rd remains to be determined through future work. Certainly the eastern sector of the corridor continued eastward past the disturbance behind the blocking wall. The floor plan of the corridor- ridors and the creation of the u-shaped enclosure were both integral to the design of the Structure 6F-3/3rd summit. In the Late Preclassic dance platforms (Structures 6E-58 and 6E-120), our fully documented instances of sub-surface corridors at Yaxuna (Suhler and Freidel 1993: sections 2 and 3), the corridors surrounded, and gave access to, subsurface chambers. We postulate that further investigation of the corridors on Structure 6F-3/3rd will show that they also formed a four-sided pattern with a central sanctum. Commensurate with this pattern, we predict that the eastern section of the north corridor cornered to the north, continued northwards parallel to the eastern side of the new pyramid, and gave access to a series of steps leading down into the u-shaped enclosure. In this way, the u-shaped enclosure acted as a sanctuary chamber for the labyrinth, complementing the corridor- ridors. However, this sanctuary was only a temporary feature of the design, replaced, we predict, by another sanctuary at the level of the corridors and on the centerline of the pyramid.
The builders had probably half-finished the subsurface labyrinth when the ritualists used the u-shaped enclosure area for the last time and had it filled with rubble. In their final ceremony, they tore out the Structure 6F-3/4th floor above the Burial 23 tomb antechamber and reentered the tomb. Our reasons for inferring a reentry of the tomb chamber are as follows. Firstly, the tomb chamber was originally sealed by the Structure 6F- 3/4th floor, hence the breaching of the floor as we found it occurred in conjunction with the raising of Structure 6F-3/3rd and the building of the u-shaped enclosure directly over the antechamber area. Secondly, We found freshly quarried rocks of the kind used in construction of the pyramid inside the tomb, stacked against the north and south walls for most of the length of the chamber. When the ritualists placed these rocks inside the chamber, they did not disturb the body or the 13 pottery vessels which accompanied it. While this activity could have been part of the original burial, the stratigraphy of the tomb showed it to be part of a reentry. Thirdly, the greenstone sak-hunal jewel found in the marl and rubble fill of the antechamber, placed there after the floor had been breached, is virtually identical to another sak-hunal jewel found in the southwestern corner of the tomb chamber. We now have several styles of sak-hunal jewel from Early Classic contexts at Yaxuna and these two artifacts form a clear and distinctive pair.
The quarried rocks that the Maya placed inside the tomb chamber were between 30 cm and 50 cm in diameter and they had clustered them against the northern and southern walls in stacks of about three stones high which sloped downward for about 50 cm to from the sides to the east-west centerline of the tomb. At their edges in the middle the rock stacks were only a single layer high. In profile, then, the rock piles formed a central depression. The rock deposits were set directly on the 15 cm thick layer of decayed wall/vault plaster, filtered down soil, and decayed organic residue which covered the floor of the chamber. The ritualists did not place rocks in the area of the torso, leaving the central area of the tomb clear and the body in the depression so formed. In this central area the stratum of marl, soil, and organic material extended out from under the rocks to cover the bones, confirming its accumulation prior to the laying of the rocks. We assume this accumulation took place in the tomb after it was originally sealed following the internment of the king.
Except for two rocks in the northwest corner, the ritualists avoided placing rocks in the four corners of the burial chamber. We propose that the relatively minor damage caused by the placement of the rocks indicates their deliberate careful introduction into the burial chamber. The only artifact damage we could directly attribute to the presence of the rocks was found in the group of ceramic vessels in the northwest corner. The pair of rocks placed in an "L" shape against the northwest corner had crushed the lid of Vessel # 8, and a rock had apparently rolled down from the west edge of the stack of rocks on the north side and broke off a piece of the rim of Vessel # 9.
Had the rocks been thrown into the burial chamber, or just rolled in from the entrance, the level of damage would have been much greater and the distribution of the rocks would not have been so regular. A great deal of force would have been necessary to roll the rocks from the entrance to the western edge of the chamber. Such force would surely have caused the stones to careen off each other in unpredictable paths, leaving a random distribution of rocks and a path of destruction and disarray. Such actions would have wrought havoc with the skeleton and the other fragile objects in the chamber, such as the shell and bone artifacts, and the ceramic vessels. In addition, the majority of the rocks would have clustered in the center of the tomb, on top of the skeleton. This was clearly not the case because, as mentioned above, the center of the room was clear of rocks and the skeleton showed no signs of extensive post-depositional disturbance or damage. In fact, the skeleton showed only two instannett, the skeleton was tightly bundled in a prone position. One rock on the western end of the northern pile had rolled down and damaged the left humerus of the skeleton. Below one knee, a large stone 50 cm had crushed the tibias in situ.
After the ritualists had reentered the tomb chamber, they had the antechamber filled to within 40 cm of top of the wall with a mixture of pure white sascab and very clean limestone boulders-- like those placed in the tomb. During this work, they placed the sak-hunal jewel in the northeast corner of the antechamber, 80 cm below the level of the Structure 6F-3/4th floor. While there is no way to be certain, we believe that this jewel was part of the original Burial 23 internment and that the ritualists who reentered the tomb put it in its final location. We base this interpretation on the near identity of the sak hunal found ou side the burial chamber (Fig. 2.18a ) and the one from within the chamber (Fig. 2.18b). As mentioned above, these two jewels together form one stylistic type of royal jewel within this ever evolving class of artifact at Yaxuna. We found another example of direct placement of a jewel in construction fill from the termination of the summit temple on Structure 6F-4 in 1992 (Suhler and Freidel 1993:58). In that instance, we found a large spondylous bead identical to those in a cache set near floor level in the construction fill above of the cache.
On the other hand, we also propose that the smashed ceramic vessel and charcoal deposit found under a preserved section of the Structure 6F-3/4th floor in the southwest corner of the excavation, within the area of the u-shaped enclosure, pertain to the original laying of the tomb and the construction of the 6F- 3/4th floor. The difference between these two deposits rests on their stratigraphic associations: the sak-hunal was found in the construction fill under the breached and refilled section and the ceramic and charcoal deposit was found under a preserved section of Structure 6F-3/4th floor. After plugging of the antechamber with the pure white material, the ritualists filled the rest of the area demarcated by the u-shaped enclosure with the usual gray/brown dry rubble and dirt. The builders then completed the sub-surface corridors, now cut off from the temporary sanctum over the tomb antechamber, and laid the raised plaza surface of Structure 6F-3/3rd over the whole area.
Based on our first season of research, Structure 6F-3/3rd (Fig. 2.4) was a multi
terraced pyramid with a central staircase (Stair B). This stair led to a broad terrace ca 7m above the plaza floor. On the centerline of this terrace, and at its northern edge, there was a two course (37 cm) high platform. This platform, in turn, framed the entrance to a vaulted labyrinth below the surface of the raised plaza on the summit of the primary substructure. Access from the platform to the entrance of the superstructure is at the moment problematical because the sill is a little over a meter above the platform and we have yet to document the means of ascension.
Once entered, this vaulted labyrinth contained at least an east-west corridor. Access to the summit plaza has also yet to be determined, but we are considering two possibilities. One means of ascent would be by means of small stairways within the corridor- ridors leading to trap doors onto the summit plaza. Although this is a rare Maya architectural design for stairways, there are examples of it beyond the Late Preclassic dance platforms at Yaxuna. For example, Structure 10L-11 at Copan is basically a solid pier with east-west and north-south corridors built into it. Two stairways led from the corridor level to trap doors in the roof level. The inscriptions in Structure 10L-11 celebrate the accession of king Yax-Pak (Schele and Freidel 1990: chapter 8). Only further work can determine if there were such stairways to the summit plaza on Structure 6F-3/3rd.
The other possible means of access to the summit would have been flanking staircases inset into the terrace faces to either side of the platform and the entrance to the labyrinth. If it turns out that there were no rising stairs inside the corridors of the labyrinth, such outside stairs would be a very likely prospect. A number of major Classic period Maya centers have labyrinthine corridors and chambers within major terrace levels, including Tonina, Yaxchilan and Palenque. In the case of Palenque, the labyrinth underneath the south side of the Palace includes a stairway leading up and into House E, the coronation room for the dynasty there (see Schele and Freidel 1990: chapter 6 for a general discussion of Palenque).
Some time after the construction of Structure 6F-3/3rd, ritualists removed a section of the northern wall of the east- west corridor, east of the entrance and down to the level of the basal footer. We do not know how much farther to the east beyond the limits of our exposure they continued to remove this wall. At the western edge of this destruction, they built a blocking wall across the corridor. At the base of this blocking wall they placed several tabular stones, evidently a modest altar. They then placed a small offering on top of one of these stones (Fig. 2.15). Behind this blocking wall we found a plug of pure white sascab and limestone boulders. At one time, we viewed this plug as part of the placement or reentry of the Burial 23 tomb chamber. Now, however, we view this as a separate activity undertaken some unknown time after the building of Structure 6F-3/3rd. Whatever its exact nature, this modification involved the collapse of the vault in this part of the corridor. We suspect that this feature may have been part of the same ritual activity as the Terminal Classic interment of the sacrificial victim in the southern corridor in front of the chamber.
Structure 6F-3/5th, the earliest phase so far discerned, was already a sizeable pyramid. For the one terrace wall we can infer for it--against which the masons built the north wall of the burial 23 tomb chamber--was already some 6 m above the level of the plaza below. The redesign of the building accompanying the tomb placed its occupant permanently on the centerline, where no doubt he walked and ceremonially performed his duties in life. This effort may well have required the removal of a stairway section at this place, although excavation below the tomb chamber in Structure 6F-4, burial 24, revealed the stairway intact in that locality.
Structure 6F-3/4th expanded to the south the raised plaza of the acropolis on the locality. From the final design of the building, we postulate that the architecture already at this time consisted of a primary and secondary substructure. How far to the south the raised plaza of the primary substructure extended is a matter for future research. We speculate that the general dimensions of the final building were perhaps established at this time and then the surface of the primary substructure raised in subsequent efforts. Our inference rests on the dynamics of the subsequent modifications, which aimed primarily at raising and elaborating established spaces on the pyramid more than substantially extending it to the south.
The burial of the king in the centerline tomb was an event of great moment in the history of the building, for the design of the subsequent architectural phase focused around it. Not content to merely exalt the building containing the remains of this man, the patron of Structure 6F-3/3rd created a special ritual of entry into the tomb, and the resealing of it, as an integral feature of his new structure. He created a subsurface vaulted labyrinth within the new upper terrace of the new primary sub- structure and he designed a special temporary sanctuary over the tomb antechamber as one feature of this labyrinth. The labyrinthine corridors of Structure 10L-11 at Copan and the Palace at Palenque were both associated with royal accession. In the sak-hunal jewels and other mortuary furniture, we have reasons independent of architectural design to propose that the individual buried inside the tomb in Structure 6F-3 was also a king.
We postulate that the patron of Structure 6F-3/3rd was a successor to the man inside burial 23 and that his rebuilding on the locality declared his inheritance of power from this ancestor. Logically, the immediate successor of the man in burial 23 was the one who completed Structure 6F-3/4th and sealed in the tomb. Whether the patron of Structure 6F-3/4th was this man or whether it was his own successor is an historical detail we cannot determine on present evidence. We can affirm that the successor was proximate in time and claimed inheritance because he knew precisely where the antechamber of the tomb was located under the plaza of Structure 6F 3/4th. He designed his labyrinth around the tomb and its reopening.
We have only the major portion of the ground plan of the u- shaped enclosure. But the enclosure walls are higher than the floor of the corridors, so we know that these features were being built at the same time and as part of an overall interior plan within the new summit terrace of Structure 6F-3/3rd. The design of the u shaped enclosure was deliberate and we predict that when completely defined by excavation that it will form in its ground plan a stepped cleft. The stepped cleft with rounded or u-shaped base is a powerful symbol in Classic Maya art and writing. This cleft is the diagnostic feature of the personified mountain glyph, witz in Mayan. Witz or mountain is how ancient Maya referred to the artificial mountains or pyramids which they built in their centers. The First True Mountain is a clefted mountain depicted at Palenque in the temple of the Foliated Cross. There the acceding king, Chan-Bahlum, is portrayed emerging from that mountain dressed as the reborn First Father, the maize lord, Hun-Nal-Ye, of the Classic Maya myth cycle. This king is also portrayed seated in majesty on top of this clefted mountain on the roof comb of the temple of the Sun at Palenque--the only roof comb with sufficient preserved decoration to discern the iconography. On the roof of the recently discovered Early Classic palace at Balam-Kuh in Campeche, the patron lord is also seated in majesty above a clefted mountain head. There the act of rebirth is quite explicit, for the lord is actually emerging from the gaped jaws of a frog. The up ended frog head is the Mayan glyph for birth. In later versions of the Maya myth cycle, as in the Popol Vuh, the clefted mountain is the place where maize was found and humanity first shaped of it.
The patron of Structure 6F-3/3rd designed his temporary sanctuary as the cleft in this mountain, a cleft that was oriented horizontally from east to west, but also vertically on that axis. For the floors of the corridor are higher than the base of the enclosure on the old plaza of 6F-3/4th; and the tomb, the ultimate destination of this man in his ceremonial work, is is even further below. While the construction of his version of the pyramid was still in progress, the patron descended into this cleft, pierced the floor, entered the lower cleft shaped by the antechamber walls of the tomb, and went into the tomb. What he may have removed from the tomb is a matter of speculation. As Sharon Bennett noted in excavation, the face of the skeleton is either disintegrated or removed. It is possible that the patron of Structure 6F-3/3rd removed a mosaic stone mask, a common feature of Classic royal tombs, and damaged the facial bones in the process. It is also possible that he rearranged materials around the body, for the sak-hunal jewel in the antechamber and the one in the southwest corner of the tomb chamber likely were originally interred together and adorning the head. Given that the conventionally preferred numbers of sak hunal diadem jewels worn on royal crowns are one and three, it is possible that he took a third of these stones with him out of the chamber to wear himself. Because of the distinctive style of the two sak-hunals in hand, we might be fortunate enough to find such a third stone if we find the tomb of this man. What he certainly did was place the piles of rubble alongside the body, another expression of the clefted mountain made of the substance of his own pyramidal version of it in Structure 6F 3/3rd.
The labyrinth, as we reconstruct it, linked the u-shaped enclosure by corridors to the entryway on the south side of the new upper terrace of the primary substructure. In front of this entryway was the raised platform on the broad southern terrace. The design of this platform and its placement suggest that the patron of the building used this space for a more public and visually accessible continuation of rituals carried out in the u- shaped enclosure. In light of the downward, underworld, symbolism of the enclosure as the cleft in the mountain, the platform fronting the entryway may have represented the upperworld. We must bear in mind that the design of the labyrinth likely related as much to the secondary substructure on the summit to the north as to the broad terrace area on the south side of the primary substructure. Nevertheless, the plan as we presently know it documents a material link between the ancestor in his tomb and the patron of the superseding version of the pyramid with his labyrinth and performance space.
This kind of communion between a living individual and ancestors is a well documented feature of royal accession rituals. For example, both Chan Bahlum in his temples of the Cross Group at Palenque and Yax-Pak in Structure 10L-11 at Copan show themselves communing with dead ancestral kings in subsurface places. The sanctuaries of the Cross Group are called pib-na-il (Schele and Freidel 1990), underground houses; the name of the lower story of Structure 10L-11 is pat-chan, possibly "underside of the sky" (Freidel, Schele and Parker 1993). Because we identify the person in burial 23 as a king, we postulate that the patron of Structure 6F-3/3rd undertook such elaborate efforts to establish a link with him because he was an heir to the same status.
The patron of the succeeding version of Structure 6F-3, Structure 6F-3/2nd, made a new underground sanctuary chamber over the open platform in front of the entry way of Structure 6F-3/3rd. He built out a new southern face of the terrace housing that labyrinth, and established a southern corridor to provide access to that chamber. He constricted the entryway into the labyrinth into a niche accessible from the chamber only by means of some perishable stair or ladder. The open space of the original platform was effectively re-established on the roof area above the chamber. This new arrangement shares design features with the interior space of Structure 10L-11 at Copan. There a niche-like throne area is the center and focus of the space and at the crossing point of east- west and north-south corridors. The corridor behind the niche in 10L-11 leads into a courtyard rather than a labyrinth , and the access to the roof area of the Yaxuna pier still has to be discovered. Nevertheless, the patron of 6F-3/2nd worked to maintain thematic and physical connection with the building of his predecessor, while also designing a chamber that corresponds in important ways to the sanctuaries and niches used in accession rituals by Classic Maya kings elsewhere in the lowlands.
Structure 6F-3/2nd was the last of the Early Classic building phases on this locality for which we presently have evidence. Structure 6F-3/1st constitutes a clear break with the past. It includes a Terminal Classic modification of the main stairway (Stair A) which evidently provided physical access again up the main stairway to the summit for the first time since Structure 6F-3/4th. Sometime in the course of this Terminal Classic reuse of the locality, the sacrificial victim, burial 19, was placed with his hands bound in front of him inside the open pit before the doorway into the chamber. The shattered pattern of his spine suggests that he may have been killed by having the vault pulled down on his crouched body. We suspect that the sealing of the subsurface corridor and the chamber were part of a ritual that included the blocking wall in the eastern sector of the labyrinth. Further work in the labyrinth should clarify why and when that blocking wall was built. We predict that an important individual was buried east of blocking wall and in a corner sector of the labyrinth in the Terminal Classic period.
The Terminal Classic history of this locality, and of the north acropolis more generally, remains to be worked out in more detail. Traci Ardren's test pit on the summit of the secondary substructure hints that a massive offering was placed up there in this period. Still, it is clear to us that there is a break not only in time between the Early Classic constructions and the Terminal Classic ones, but also a break in the function of the locality. The Early Classic buildings which we have documented so far are thematically linked in their designs. The burial 23 tomb provides evidence that this was a place of royal burial and we think it was also a place of royal performance. We expect to discover further examples of royal burials and more details as to royal performance in the course of continued work on this locality. The Terminal Classic occupants reused the existing labyrinth and the summit surfaces. Whatever these facilities meant to them, however, they were not interested in elaborating them in ways that indicate conceptual and functional continuity. We infer that the royal patrons of the Early Classic had been replaced by leaders with different ritual objectives and uses for the partially ruined buildings they found in the north acropolis.